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Last Updated on May 10, 2024 by Robert C. Hoopes

Students and visitors at the University of Southern California were met with heightened security measures last week as they passed through T.S.A.-like checkpoints ahead of commencement ceremonies. However, the normally joyous occasion has been marred by campus protests and controversy, leading to the cancellation of the grand main-stage commencement for the Class of 2024.

Keynote speakers, including actors Liza Colón-Zayas and Jaren Lewison, have withdrawn from their commitments to speak at various school commencements in light of the unrest at U.S.C. The university has implemented increased security measures to control movement during commencement events, a response to the growing tension on campus.

Despite the cancellations and protests, some students are looking forward to attending the commencement party at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The event promises music, fireworks, and drone shows, providing a more festive atmosphere for graduates.

The controversy at U.S.C. began with the cancellation of the valedictorian speech of Asna Tabassum, which sparked a series of changes in commencement plans. The situation has escalated, with a petition signed by 400 professors demanding an apology to Ms. Tabassum and censure of university leadership for their handling of the issue.

Amidst the chaos, some speakers such as Sean Penn and Justice Goodwin Liu remain committed to addressing U.S.C. graduates at their respective school commencements. The drama surrounding the commencement events at U.S.C. has drawn national attention and ignited debates about academic freedom and free speech on college campuses, reflecting a broader trend of student demonstrations at universities across the country.

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