UC Berkeley graduation plans on track despite pro-Palestinian protests

ByLeslie Brinkley KGO logo
Wednesday, May 8, 2024
UC Berkeley graduation plans on track despite protests
Many universities are altering upcoming graduation plans for security concerns involving recent protests -- but not so at UC Berkeley.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Many universities are altering upcoming graduation plans for security concerns involving recent protests and encampments. But not so at UC Berkeley - Cal's big graduation is set for this weekend.

Seniors at Cal are excited. "Graduating is the biggest thing in a lot of our lives. It's a happy weekend," One sorority member said.

The big UC Berkeley commencement ceremony will take place Saturday at California Memorial Stadium, where thousands of undergraduates will get their diplomas. They are limited to four tickets each for guests and the usual protocol is in place as it is for football games - no backpacks, no banners or signs allowed and a clear bag policy. There are also 90 other graduation-related ceremonies and events taking place around campus over the coming days.

MORE: A look at commencement ceremonies as US campuses are roiled by protests over the Israel-Hamas war

On Tuesday, Sather Gate is wide open but the tent encampment on the steps of Sproul Hall is still growing larger with barricades set up to block access in places. Campus police can be seen keeping an eye on the plaza while private security guards are visible as well.

Cal undergraduate student Hamza Mahmoud with the UC Berkeley Divest Coalition was asked if there are any plans for protests or events going into the graduation weekend. "That all depends on the University. So we're playing it day by day," Mahmoud said.

UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof said, "Berkeley has long experience with commencements that were interrupted at times by protests dating back to the 1960s."

MORE: 3 hurt at UC Berkeley encampment after days of peaceful assembly, university says

The university says everything is going forward as usual.

"We'll be prioritizing the ability of graduating students, their friends and families to participate in and enjoy one of the most meaningful days of their lives," Mogulof said.

At hotels near the campus, parents are already checking in and families and friends are not inquiring about any security concerns.

Graduating seniors say they're not worried. They're excited.

"As far as protests go, it's a good thing for them to be preaching what they want to believe in and as far as I'm concerned I've never had a problem with safety," grading senior Carter Lynch said.

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