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Gaza Protests Lead University of Vermont to Cancel UN Ambassador’s Appearance

University of Vermont cancels UN ambassador's address (Credits: Indiana Daily Student)

The University of Vermont (UVM) has announced the cancellation of United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield’s commencement speech, succumbing to pressure from pro-Palestinian protests sweeping across college campuses nationwide.

In a message to the university community, President Suresh Garimella regretted the cancellation, stating that the graduates “deserve a weekend of ceremony and celebration befitting their accomplishment.”

The decision comes in the middle of a wave of protests targeting President Biden and his administration’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The University of Vermont (Credits:

Pro-Palestinian activists have been vocal in their criticism, with the College Democrats of America, the Democratic National Committee’s college outreach arm, expressing solidarity with the protestors and condemning the White House’s approach to the conflict.

In a statement, the College Democrats criticized the White House for its “bear hug strategy” towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and its “cold shoulder strategy” towards its base and Americans seeking a peaceful resolution.

They warned that the party’s failure to stand united for a permanent ceasefire, two-state solution, and recognition of a Palestinian state would further disillusion youth with the party.

President Biden, however, has criticized aspects of the pro-Palestinian protests, including property damage and vandalism. In prepared remarks at the White House, he emphasized that “destroying property is not a peaceful protest, it’s against the law.”

Pro-Palestinian activists (Credits: The Times of Israel)

He condemned actions such as trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, and forcing the cancellation of classes and graduation, stating that “none of this is a peaceful protest.”

The cancellation of Thomas-Greenfield’s speech has been celebrated by pro-Palestinian groups, with UVM’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine labeling her a “war criminal” on Instagram.

The protests have resulted in hundreds of arrests and forced several universities, including UVM, to adjust their graduation plans. As the situation continues to come to light, it remains to be seen how institutions will balance free speech and peaceful assembly with the need to maintain order and ensure the safety of their communities.

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