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UW encampment holds honorary convocation for Gaza grads


A convocation ceremony was held at the University of Waterloo on Monday night – but not for students currently enrolled at the school.

Instead, it was an honorary event for their peers in Gaza, who are missing out on graduation due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Members of the Occupy UW encampment organized both the convocation and vigil.

“We know that there are no universities left standing in Gaza and it feels wrong to us, as a student movement here at the University of Waterloo, that all around us convocation is happening and those students, who are not able to convocate, they are not able to go up on stage, get their diplomas and earn the degrees that they were working to hard for,” Sarah Ahmed, with Occupy UW, explained.

Students said Monday night’s event is meant to honour – and grieve – those living in Gaza.

Some university staff members attended the ceremony.

“We have a lot of privilege here,” University of Waterloo professor Omar Ramahi said. “The least we can do is highlight the suffering that those people have been going through.”

The event drew student from other schools who wanted to take part in the emotional moment.

“As a Palestinian, I feel sad and I feel heartbroken because every martyr is a family, every student is a brother, a sister, a cousin. They’re all family,” Wilfrid Laurier University student Nancy Yasmin said.

UW students set up pro-Palestinian signs, flags and tents on campus as a show of solidarity with other encampments across North America. Organizers and members are asking their respective schools to divest from any groups that support Israel’s war efforts.

Participants in Occupy UW's honorary convocation for Gaza graduates at the University of Waterloo on June 10, 2024.

Official convocation ceremonies are set to begin Tuesday at the University of Waterloo. The school previously told CTV News that the encampment shouldn’t disrupt or impact those events, though they have added new security measures this year. Top Stories

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