Home Education & Learning Pro-Palestine students disrupt speech at Michigan honors event

Pro-Palestine students disrupt speech at Michigan honors event

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Pro-Palestine student activists disrupted an honors convocation at the University of Michigan on Sunday, interrupting President Santa Ono’s speech and calling for the university to divest endowment funds from Israel, The Detroit News reported.

The convocation, one of Michigan’s most highly regarded academic traditions, was set to celebrate nearly 2,000 students. All student awards had been handed out, but when Ono stood to speak, about 100 protesters, on stage and in the audience, held signs reading “No Honor in Genocide,” and chanted “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crimes.” Ono stopped, looked around the auditorium and eventually exited the stage, grinding the event to a halt. 

In an email to Inside Higher Ed, university spokesperson Colleen Mastony said that although Michigan administrators support the right to protest, they do not approve of disrupting university events.

“We recently reiterated our commitment to free speech and free expression with the adoption of a statement of principles that is guided by the letter and spirit of the First Amendment,” Mastony wrote “Although we support students’ right to protest, such rights are not limitless. Disrupting speakers and events is not protected speech and is a clear violation of university policy.”

But Tarana Sharma, a 20-year-old junior who is social media co-director of Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, a Palestinian student organization, told The Daily it was a necessary way to call attention to the university’s direct relationship to Israel.

“Our Board of Regents has funneled $6 billion from our endowment to Israel and has paid for the murder of over 32,000 Palestinians,” Sharma said. “They have shown zero accountability. In fact, they continue to target Palestinian students and make examples out of them for simply voicing feelings of frustration, hopelessness, fear, instead of protecting pro-Palestinian students.”

According to Mastony these and any future violations of university policy or law will result in “appropriate consequences.” She declined, however, to comment on what the specific consequences would be, saying disclosure would violate individual students’ rights under FERPA.


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