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The Penndulum

The Penndulum

Which One is More Important in 2024: Education or Ethnicity?

Columbia University.

The college graduating class of 2024 is once again facing repercussions from external factors they can not control. From schools being shut down in 2020 and losing their high school graduation to COVID-19, this same class is now losing their college commencement due to the anti-Jewish protests. The ongoing war in Gaza has created a divided opinion across not only the U.S. but also the world, and college students are beginning to get involved.

On October 7, 2023, Hamas launched an attack on Israel over territorial issues of Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip, and the struggle with Palestinian refugees and prisoners. The death toll from the war is over 34,000, and thousands of others have been displaced, imprisoned, or gone missing. Today, both Palestinians and Israelis are living in harsh wartime conditions due to neither side taking a ceasefire. Across the world, the divide has spread on which side to support or who is ‘right.’ More recently, protestors in support of Palestine have brought their cause to universities. Many Jewish students have been attacked as a result, and over 2,000 arrests have been made concerning these protests. Although they have not been violent yet, recent polls have shown that over 50% of students are worried that they will become violent. So far, the protests have included prayers, singing, chanting, closing roads, etc. Recently, Columbia University canceled its commencement ceremony due to cautionary measures for Jewish and other students’ safety.

In the fall of 2024, Kendall Posey will be attending Cornell University. As a future Ivy League student, she commented, “I’m disappointed in people who make others from different backgrounds feel unwanted, unappreciated, and unsafe where they deserve to be treated with respect and equity and not have such a huge moment in their life taken away from them.” A college campus, a space that should feel safe and at home, is now becoming a place where students are scared to be on campus and get to classes safely. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the American flag was taken down and replaced with the Palestinian flag, creating a great divide between the population at the university. The school police and fraternity brothers restored the flag to its rightful position. This escalated tensions between the pro-Palestinians and police, continuing to make the Jewish students feel unsafe. Emily Arslan is a part of the Jewish community and will attend Coastal Carolina University in the fall of 2024. When asked how she feels about stepping on a college campus this upcoming semester, she said, “It hasn’t spread to my school yet, but I am nervous if it does because I will be a part of a very small Jewish community there.” Feeling outnumbered and attacked is not a feeling any student should have when trying to obtain a degree.

The ongoing war has put numerous families in terrible situations and caused many people to be targeted or attacked. Universities nationwide struggle to handle these protests and decide what is best for their students. But is taking away the student’s commencement ceremony, which could be one of the most significant moments of their lives, the right thing to do?


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About the Contributor
Natalie Pappas, Student Writer
Natalie Pappas, Grade 12. Interests/hobbies include running, going to the gym, reading, NHS, executive council, being with family and friends, traveling, and spending summers at the beach. Natalie plans to further her education at a 4-year university and obtain a nursing degree.  Eventually, she will further her degree to become a nurse practitioner.

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