Duke University graduates walk out before Jerry Seinfeld's commencement speech

Dozens of students walked out of Duke University's commencement ceremony on Sunday as actor and comedian Jerry Seinfeld was to deliver his address, according to video posted on social media.

In a video posted on Twitter, people were seen waving Palestinian flags and walking out of a crowd of graduates at the University of North Carolina's football stadium.

Duke University President Vincent Price's introduction to Seinfeld was overshadowed by some chants of “Free Palestine”, while others chanted “Jerry! Jerry!”

Seinfeld, 70, who has supported Israel since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas terrorists, has recently courted controversy over his comments while remaining acceptable fodder for comedy.

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

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

“Many of you are thinking, 'I can't believe they invited this guy.' It's too late,” he said after vowing to “defend” the concept of privilege.

He said, “I say, use your privilege. I grew up a Jewish boy in New York. It's a privilege if you want to be a comedian.”

As Seinfeld said, the departing graduates chanted from the parking lot, “Disinvest, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest”.

The actor has not commented publicly 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 pleased for the Class of 2024 and their families. We understand the depth of emotion in our community.” And as we have throughout the year, we respect the right of everyone at Duke to peacefully express their views, without preventing graduates and their families from celebrating their accomplishments.”

This demonstration by students is the latest expression of protest There was a stir on American campuses For weeks students have been demanding universities to withdraw money from arms suppliers and other companies that promote and profit from the war.

The protests inspired universities like Colombia And this University of Southern California Canceling or reorganizing their main graduation ceremonies.

Students briefly disrupted the University of Michigan Ceremony earlier this month,

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

This week, Xavier University of Louisiana and the University of Vermont canceled a start invitation UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield due to student outrage over the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Administrators at both universities cited pressure from students and the community over the Biden administration's support for Israel in its war with Hamas.

At the University of Wisconsin–Madison, a small group of protesters held a silent protest during commencement at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday. A photo posted by the Wisconsin State Journal shows about six people walking past the stadium, two of whom are holding a Palestinian flag.

Campus police spokesman Mark Lovicott said the group, who he believed were students because they were wearing caps and gowns, “were kind of directed in but they left on their own. ” No arrests were made.

Dozens of graduate students at Virginia Commonwealth University walked out over Governor Glenn Youngkin's address. According to WRIC-TV, of the estimated 100 students and family members who walked out during the Republican governor's speech, some showed support for the Palestinians, while others signaled opposition to Youngkin's policies on education.

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

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

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