May 20, 2024

Nope, it’s not what you think. It wasn’t pro-Hamas protesters—this time.

We’ve seen anti-Israel protests at several graduations, and we’ve seen commencement ceremonies canceled altogether as some universities bent their knee to the demonstrators—but we haven’t seen this up till now.

A graduation ceremony for nursing students at Howard University in Washington D.C. was canceled right in the middle of the keynote address Thursday as furious parents who were locked out due to capacity issues pounded on the doors and even smashed a window.

It was a chaotic scene:

The tensions flared because the venue simply wasn’t large enough for all the families who came to watch their loved ones walk the stage. There was at least one injury:

Loved ones of students in the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences packed into the Cramton Auditorium in Washington, DC, on Thursday, but not all relatives made it inside the building before the ceremony was abruptly canceled during the keynote address.

Chaotic video footage shows dozens of people standing outside the auditorium chanting “Let us in! Let us in!” as the ceremony began. Pictures showed a glass door had been shattered during the commotion as people banged on the doors and tried to push past security to go inside.

Students, many of whom may have missed their high school graduations in 2020 because of COVID, were heartbroken:

One grad explained what happened:

“While they were doing the keynote speaker, there was, like, loud banging, even before that, for like 10 minutes straight,” graduate Bria Flowers told NBC Washington. “Just like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.”

Another grad said, “I’m confused why it got so crazy, how it got so quick, so bad so fast.” At least one administrator seemed to blame the families:

School officials told students and their families mid-ceremony that the fire department had come to shut things down.

“Because of the size of the room and because our relatives sometimes do not know how to act, the fire department is now here to shut us down,” Dr. Gina S. Brown, dean of the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences, said to a roaring response of boos.

The fire department clapped back, however, and said it wasn’t them who shut things down:

“D.C. Fire and EMS did not shut down tonight’s event,” the department said. “At 6:42 p.m., we responded to the Cramton Auditorium for a medical local at the request of campus police. The patient was evaluated and refused transport, and D.C. Fire and EMS departed.”

I would never condone rioting and have been quite outspoken about the pro-Hamas zealots, but I know that I’d be pretty darn upset if I’d come across the country—possibly with multiple family members—only to be told that I couldn’t watch my kid get his degree. 

Somebody in the administration needs to either find a new job or learn to plan better, because this was an unfortunate outcome for all involved. Have they not heard of outdoor ceremonies?


See also:

Devil With a Palestinian Flag: Duke Students Walk Out of Graduation As Jerry Seinfeld Introduced