New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Dozens walk out of Yankee Stadium as Mills gives commencement address

The walkout is the latest of several demonstrations by pro-Palestinian student protesters over the last few weeks.
Krish Dev
(Krish Dev for WSN)

Dozens of students, many wearing keffiyeh scarves and booing in dissent, walked out of this year’s commencement ceremony at Yankee Stadium as NYU president Linda Mills gave her address to graduates.

Mills, who opened her speech with a quote from the Broadway musical “Wicked,” did not directly address recent protests and arrests on campus. Some other universities that saw large pro-Palestinian encampment protests and student and faculty arrests, such as Columbia University and the University of Southern California, opted not to hold universitywide commencement ceremonies at all this year.

“Let’s try a thought experiment: Think of someone from whom you might normally shy away, or with whom you might not usually agree,” Mills said in her speech. “What would it look like to stretch and to bridge, to learn from those you might otherwise judge, even reject. Today as we face a world of war and polarization, this is as important as ever. The enduring desire to be open to those most unlike us.”

Mills was also booed when presenting honorary degrees to this year’s recipients earlier in the ceremony, and again when presenting the University Medal — given to “distinguished visitors and members of the university community” — to Tisch professor Susan Hilferty, as well as Broadway actors and Tisch alumni Brittney Johnson and Carla Stickler.

“During a joyful 2 1/2 hours for 40,000 grads and guests, I observed a few passing moments of booing by a tiny fraction of the crowd,” NYU spokesperson John Beckman wrote in a statement to WSN. “It had no impact on the proceedings, which carried on very well, and the overwhelming majority of the attendees seemed to enjoy the Commencement Exercises very much.”

Outside the stadium’s entrances, students who had walked out during Mills’ speech began chanting “NYU, you can’t hide, you’re abetting genocide” and “Linda, Linda what do you say, how many students did you arrest today?” New York City Police Department officers and security guards stood around the demonstration as the commencement ceremony continued inside. 

NYU’s Palestine Solidarity Coalition and Jews Against Zionism groups had announced the walkout in an Instagram post earlier in the day.

“Autonomously planned Yankee Graduation walkout, we refuse to let the ceremony continue as planned whilst NYU refuses to acknowledge Palestine or Gaza and is complicit in the genocide of over 40,000 Palestinians,” the post reads. “Join us on May 15th, Nakba Day, for a walkout out of commencement during Linda’s speech, if you can put red paint or lipstick on your hands and wear a keffiyeh.”

Later, thousands of graduates cheered as Mills conferred their degrees and certificates, and this year’s commencement exercises came to a close. 

Throughout the past year, Mills has come under fire for her approach to pro-Palestinian protest activity on campus, particularly after NYU authorized the arrests of 133 protesters at an encampment set up at Gould Plaza and the arrests of 14 student protesters outside another encampment at the Paulson Center. She has also faced criticism for her handling of antisemitism on campus, with some instances of antisemitic behavior having been reported during protests and the university currently facing a lawsuit alleging it has failed to properly address antisemitism.

Contact Carmo Moniz at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Carmo Moniz
Carmo Moniz, Managing Editor
Carmo Moniz is a junior studying journalism and politics. She enjoys covering city news and dabbling in data journalism, and aspires to one day join the journalism-to-law-school pipeline. When she's not in classes or at the Washington Square News, you can find her looking for a movie to watch or embarking on random art projects. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @carmo_moniz or send tips at [email protected].
Krish Dev
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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