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University of Waterloo convocation celebration shrouded by security

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As thousand of students walk across the stage to collect their hard-earned degrees, the University of Waterloo is stepping up safety precautions this week.

The extra measures were put in place weeks after Occupy UW set up an encampment on campus to protest the war in Gaza. The school’s precautions come almost one year after a triple stabbing in a UW classroom in 2023.

“I definitely think since the accidents that happened this past year and last year, I think the added security acts as another measure to give protection to the ceremony, but also makes people safe,” said one person at Tuesday’s convocation ceremony.

There were mixed feelings amongst some people at attending the convocation. Many noticed the extra security measures, but others wished the day could have happened without the political backdrop.

“We did notice it a little bit, coming in there was a lot of bag checks and a lot of instructions of who goes where but I think judging by the circumstances, that it’s pretty normal,” said another person at the ceremony.

Inside the ceremony, the valedictorian took a moment while addressing the room, to talk about the ongoing conflict in Gaza. She suggested the graduating class continue to stand up in protest of the ongoing war.

“We must be the biggest advocate for other scholars across the world. We must work to protect the academic dreams of all Palestinian people,” said this year’s valedictorian.

One of Tuesday’s attendees said it was disheartening to hear about precautions.

“The ceremony isn’t about politics, it’s about achievements of the students,” they said.

Some students wore Kaffiyeh’s at the ceremony, in solidarity with Occupy UW members.

“I really appreciate how people were taking a stand and saying their opinion without being scared,” said another attendee at the ceremony.

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