UNF graduation ceremonies go on Friday despite arrests during pro-Palestinian protests Thursday

Despite pro-Palestinian protests ending in several arrests at the University of North Florida Thursday night, graduation ceremonies are going on as scheduled Friday.

On Tuesday, the Chancellor of the Florida State University System issued a memo telling university presidents that commencement ceremonies must not be canceled or disrupted by activists.


Action News Jax was on UNF’s campus throughout Friday morning and did not see any protesters.

Video taken on Thursday night shows the arrests that were made during a student-led protest against Israel’s war in Gaza.

That was the third straight day more than a dozen students were protesting for Palestine.

UNF gave demonstrators until 10 p.m. to leave campus, but after multiple warnings, those who didn’t leave were taken away by police. Sixteen people were arrested, and eight of those people were students, UNF said.

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For UNF graduates like Blake Schofield and Madisyn Federico they are glad there were no protests Friday morning.

“I’m glad they are not all here trying to make it about what they are doing,” Schofield said.

“I’ve seen it happen a lot recently and thank God we have a great community and people are good with their word here,” Federico said.

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The following is part of a message UNF President Dr. Moez Limayem sent to the campus community Thursday night in preparation for Friday’s ceremonies:

“I’d like to remind all Ospreys and guests that UNF prohibits protests or demonstrations inside University buildings and prohibits disruption of scheduled events. Our top priority is ensuring the safety of our entire campus community and our visitors. We are also committed to protecting the First Amendment rights of every student, faculty and staff member. Please remember, that with those rights come the important responsibility to follow applicable laws and regulations and understand that there are consequences for those who choose to ignore them. Again, these rules are in place to protect every person on our campus, where there is no tolerance for hate or bigotry of any kind.”

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