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Cambridge University is now forced to move graduation ceremonies after pro-Gaza activists set up camp outside the Senate House as US-style protests spread across campuses.

Cambridge University was forced to move this week’s graduation ceremonies to an undisclosed “alternative venue” after student activists protesting the war in Gaza set up camp outside the venue. have been carrying out ceremonies since the 18th century.

Protesters set up their tents on a lawn in front of the Senate on Wednesday, and graduation ceremonies are scheduled to take place there Friday and Saturday.

But the university said in a statement today that it had made the “very difficult decision” to hold the events at an undisclosed “alternative location”.

Protesters previously said they would stop or disrupt graduations as a “last resort” because the university had not met their demands.

Their actions follow a wave of similar student protests in the United States, including against encampments at Colombia University in New York, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California in Los Angeles, which resulted in police disbanding the encampments with forceful tactics, including tear gas to force protesters out.

Cambridge University was forced to move graduation ceremonies to an undisclosed “alternative location” after student activists protesting the war in Gaza set up camp outside the Senate House.

Cambridge University was forced to move graduation ceremonies to an undisclosed “alternative location” after student activists protesting the war in Gaza set up camp outside the Senate House.

Protesters set up their tents on a lawn in front of the Senate on Wednesday, and graduation ceremonies are expected to take place there Friday and Saturday.

Protesters set up their tents on a lawn in front of the Senate on Wednesday, and graduation ceremonies are expected to take place there Friday and Saturday.

Palestinian flags were flown at the historic building where graduation ceremonies have been held since the 18th century.

Palestinian flags were flown at the historic building where graduation ceremonies have been held since the 18th century.

A University of Cambridge spokesperson said: “We regret that due to the continued presence of protesters on the Senate Lawn, we have taken the very difficult decision to make alternative arrangements for University congregations this weekend. -end.

“Any students who wish to graduate this weekend will still be able to attend their graduation congregation at another venue suitable for the occasion.

“We are confident that the ceremonies will be a memorable and enjoyable experience for the students and their guests.”

An encampment appeared outside King’s College early last week and activists set up a ring of tents on the Senate lawn this week.

Protesters have vowed to continue until a set of demands are met, and earlier this week they chanted: “Let your students graduate; come and negotiate.

A Cambridge student, who wished to remain anonymous, said last week that protesters were demanding that the university “disclose all its research collaborations and financial ties with companies and institutions complicit in the Israeli genocide, and then ‘in disinvestment’.

“We will stay here until our demands are met,” she said.

The university said in an earlier statement that it would be “happy to speak with and engage with our students” but that it was “impossible to have a conversation with an anonymous group.”

A banner was stuck on the doors of the Senate reading “House of Refaat”, named after a Palestinian activist and writer killed by an Israeli airstrike in December 2023.

A banner was stuck on the doors of the Senate reading “House of Refaat”, named after a Palestinian activist and writer killed by an Israeli airstrike in December 2023.

Earlier this week, a group called Cambridge for Palestine shared footage of activists breaking into the university's Senate lawn in the center of the city.

Earlier this week, a group called Cambridge for Palestine shared footage of activists breaking into the university’s Senate lawn in the center of the city.

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman was interviewed by a GB News journalist in the rain, close to the protests.

As she was interviewed outside King’s College, her face obscured from several angles by umbrellas, an elderly activist held a sign reading “openly Jewish against visible genocide.”

A marked police van was parked outside the Senate and uniformed officers were patrolling the area on foot around lunchtime.

There had been a rally and march at this time the day before, but the protest seemed silent in the rain Thursday.

Earlier this week, a group called Cambridge for Palestine shared footage of activists breaking into the university’s Senate lawn in the center of the city.

In the footage, the masked protesters can be seen using a ladder to access the enclosed lawn before setting up the new camp.

An encampment outside King’s College emerged early last week, and now activists have also set up a ring of nearly 20 tents on the Senate lawn.

Palestinian flags were flown over the Grade II listed urn in the center of the lawn, and a white sheet was attached underneath reading ‘welcome to the liberated area’.

A banner was also stuck on the doors of the Senate reading “House of Refaat”, named after a Palestinian activist and writer killed by an Israeli airstrike in December 2023.

Flags were also plastered on Senate columns and on some walls, and a “Please do not enter the grass” sign was changed to read: “Please do not enter Palestine.”

Protesters vowed to continue until a set of demands were met.

In a statement shared on social media, protesters said: “Disrupting graduation is a last resort that we absolutely do not wish to use, but as the University of Cambridge has so far refused to engage in negotiations, we had no other solution. choice.

“We took this action two days before Friday’s graduation ceremony in order to give the University of Cambridge sufficient time to respond, and we will leave the Senate as soon as the University of Cambridge meets our prerequisites and holds a meeting with our negotiations team.’

Cambridge University student activists are now targeting graduation ceremonies to protest the war in Gaza after camping on King's Parade

Cambridge University student activists are now targeting graduation ceremonies to protest the war in Gaza after camping on King’s Parade

The student group said:

The student group said: “We took this action two days before Friday’s graduation ceremony to give the University of Cambridge sufficient time to respond.”

Cambridge protesters for Palestine marched from the camp outside King's College this week.

Cambridge protesters for Palestine marched from the camp outside King’s College this week.

The university said it would be “happy to speak with and engage with our students” but that it was “impossible to have a conversation with an anonymous group.”

Professor Bhaskar Vira, Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, said: “The University has been in regular and ongoing contact with students who have been affected by the tragic events in Gaza and Palestine. .

“We support freedom of expression and protest within the law.

“From the first day of this protest last week, together with my colleague Professor Kamal Munir, we made it very clear that we would be happy to speak with our students and engage with them.

“To date, we have only received anonymous emails.

“We remain ready for constructive engagement with our students, but it is impossible to have a conversation with an anonymous group.”

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