Duke University graduates walk out ahead of Jerry Seinfeld’s commencement address

Dozens of students walked out of Duke University’s commencement ceremony on Sunday as actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld was about to give his speech, according to videos posted on social media.

In a video posted on X, people were seen waving Palestinian flags and filing out single file from the crowd of graduates at the University of North Carolina football stadium.

Duke University President Vincent Price’s introduction to Seinfeld was drowned out by some people chanting “Free Palestine” while others shouted “Jerry!” Jerry!

Seinfeld, 70, who has supported Israel since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants, recently sparked controversy over his comments on what remains an acceptable subject for comedy today.

On Sunday, he received an honorary degree from Duke and delivered the commencement speech without major interruptions, a livestream of the ceremony showed. The livestream did not show the students leaving.

His speech largely avoided politics and instead focused on jokes about students, artificial intelligence and privilege.

“A lot of you are thinking, ‘I can’t believe they invited this guy.’ Too late,” he said, after pledging to “defend” the concept of privilege.

“I say, use your privilege. I grew up a Jewish boy from New York. It’s a privilege if you want to be a comedian,” he added.

As Seinfeld spoke, the deceased graduates chanted from the parking lot: “Disclose, divest, we won’t stop, we won’t rest,” the New York Times reported.

The actor has not publicly commented on the walkout.

In a statement to CBS News, Frank Tramble, vice president of marketing, communications and public affairs at Duke, said, “We are excited and thrilled for the Class of 2024 and their families. We understand the depth of feeling in our community, and as we have done all year, we respect the right of everyone at Duke to peacefully express their views, without preventing graduates and their families from celebrating their success .

The students’ demonstration is the latest manifestation of the protests which have American campuses in turmoil for several weeks as students call on universities to divest from arms suppliers and other companies that fuel and profit from war.

The protests have prompted universities like Colombia and the University of Southern California to cancel or restructure their major graduation ceremonies.

At the University of Michigan, students briefly interrupted the ceremony earlier this month.

“Peaceful protests like this have occurred at UM commencement ceremonies for decades,” university spokeswoman Colleen Mastony said after the ceremony.

This week, Xavier University of Louisiana and the University of Vermont canceled a job invitation to United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield due to student outcry over the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Administrators at both universities spoke of pressure from students and the community following the Biden administration’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a small group of protesters staged what appeared to be a silent demonstration Saturday during opening festivities at Camp Randall Stadium. A photo published by the Wisconsin State Journal shows about six people walking behind the stadium, two of them carrying a Palestinian flag.

Marc Lovicott, a campus police spokesman, said the group, which he thought were students because they were wearing caps and gowns, “was kind of led away but they took off from them “themselves”. No arrests have been made.

Dozens of Virginia Commonwealth University graduate students left the country during a speech by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. While some of the approximately 100 students and family members who left during the Republican governor’s speech showed support for the Palestinians, others held signs signaling their opposition to Youngkin’s education policies, according to WRIC-TV.

At the University of Texas at Austin, a student waved a Palestinian flag during a commencement ceremony and refused to briefly leave the stage before being escorted away by security.

And at the University of California, Berkeley, a small group of pro-Palestinian protesters began waving flags and chanting slogans during the opening ceremony and were escorted to the back of the stadium, where they were joined by others, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. There were no major counter-protests, but some participants expressed frustration.

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News Source : www.cbsnews.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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