Duke Grads Exit Before Seinfeld’s Commencement Speech



Dozens of students walked out of Duke University’s commencement ceremony during Jerry Seinfeld’s address, with some seen waving Palestinian flags. The 70-year-old comedian, who has supported Israel, received an honorary degree and delivered his speech without major interruptions. His speech largely avoided politics and instead focused on topics like students, artificial intelligence, and privilege.

Duke University Students Walk Out on Jerry Seinfeld’s Commencement Address

As Jerry Seinfeld began his address at Duke University’s commencement ceremony, several students staged a walkout, as seen in videos on social media. The students waved Palestinian flags and left the crowd of graduates at the North Carolina university’s football stadium.

While some attendees were chanting “Free Palestine,” others drowned out Duke University President Vincent Price’s introduction to Seinfeld by shouting “Jerry! Jerry!”

Seinfeld’s Controversial Support for Israel and Acceptable Comedy

Seinfeld, 70, has been supportive of Israel, especially after the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants. This stand, coupled with his perspective on comedy in the modern era, has sparked considerable controversy.

Despite the walkout, the comedian received an honorary degree from Duke and proceeded with his commencement address without major interruptions, as shown on a livestream. His speech largely dodged political topics, focusing instead on students, artificial intelligence, and privilege.

Protests & Reactions

The graduates who walked out assembled in the parking lot and chanted, “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest,” The New York Times reported. Seinfeld has yet to comment on the walkout. Frank Tramble of Duke expressed excitement for the graduating class and respect for peaceful expression of views.

Such student demonstrations echo recent protests across U.S. campuses against universities’ investments in arms suppliers and companies profiting from war. Several universities, including Columbia and the University of Southern California, have cancelled or restructured their graduation ceremonies in response to protests.

Other universities, including the University of Michigan, Xavier University of Louisiana, and the University of Vermont, have also witnessed protests during commencement ceremonies. These protests led to the rescinding of a commencement invitation to United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield due to her involvement in the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Other University Protests

Several universities witnessed similar protests during their commencement ceremonies. A group of demonstrators, believed to be students, staged a silent protest at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while dozens of students at Virginia Commonwealth University walked out during an address by Gov. Glenn Youngkin. At the University of California, Berkeley, a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators were escorted to the back of the stadium during commencement.

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