Students’ degrees at risk due to pro-Palestinian protests.

Several college students participating in pro-Palestinian protests have had their graduation and consequent degrees placed in jeopardy due to campus activism. The University of Chicago, Vanderbilt University, and Harvard University are among the institutions involved. At the University of Chicago, political science student Youssef Hasweh, one of four students withheld degrees, voiced his disappointment over an email informing him that disruptive conduct during a protest encampment is under investigation, potentially impacting his graduation. Hasweh believes he was targeted due to his participation in a pro-Palestinian sit-in that led to an arrest and an eight-month investigation, ending with warnings.

Devron Burks, a Vanderbilt student who was expelled following the occupation of a campus building, also faces an uncertain future. Burks was arrested, placed on interim suspension, and later expelled. In a statement, the university claims Burks and two others assaulted a community service officer and a staff member while forcing their way into the building. Burks denies the accusation and has since been evicted from their apartment and has spent weeks sleeping in Airbnbs and on friends’ couches.

Harvard University has barred several students who participated in pro-Palestinian protests from graduating, according to student organizers. Syd Sanders, one of the affected students, is unsure when he will receive his degree, possibly not until May 2026, leading to family disappointment. Meanwhile, two Princeton students have had their degrees put on hold due to an investigation into a protest at an alumni event.

Several other universities, such as Columbia and Barnard College, have suspended more than 30 students and Barnard College students protesting at Columbia. Additionally, administrators at New College in Florida warned students who interrupted the commencement with chants could have their degrees withheld and face suspension.

Despite the consequences, students such as Hasweh and Burks maintain that they do not regret their participation in the protests. They view their experiences as a sacrifice compared to the plight of Palestinians. Burks, now preparing for an arduous appeal process and uncertain future, has already had a job offer rescinded due to the withholding of their degree.