ARIZONA NEWS

ASU celebrates largest graduating class in history across 36 ceremonies

May 14, 2024, 4:25 AM

(Arizona State University photo)...

(Arizona State University photo)

(Arizona State University photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona State University wrapped up its 36 commencement ceremonies on Saturday, celebrating a record number of 20,700 graduates.

The 36 ceremonies were without disruption, according to the university, as protests against the war in Gaza have erupted across American college campuses in recent weeks.

Over 70 people were arrested at a pro-Palestine encampment on the ASU alumni lawn in weeks leading up to graduation, including 20 students.

“You might note that we are holding our graduation and we protect free speech at the same time,” ASU President Michael Crow said at the undergraduate commencement. “Welcome to Arizona State University!”

Protests at Columbia University, where student uprisings inspired others at campuses across the country, led the school to cancel its main graduation ceremony in favor of smaller gatherings.

An estimated 6,000 graduates and 30,000 spectators filled ASU’s football stadium, Mountain America Stadium, for the May 6 ceremony. Roughly 1,800 graduates and 5,000 spectators attended a ceremony earlier that morning in Desert Financial Arena, the school’s basketball venue.

The school and its police made potential consequences known in advance of the graduations, threatening removal for any violators.

Ceremonies began on May 4 and continued through May 11.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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ASU celebrates largest graduating class in history across 36 ceremonies