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UChicago to withhold degree from at least one pro-Palestinian demonstrator

UChicago to withhold degree from at least one pro-Palestinian demonstrator
UChicago to withhold degree from at least one pro-Palestinian demonstrator 02:52

At least one University of Chicago student who participated in protests over the war in Gaza will not receive his degree at graduation on Saturday. 

Youssef Hasweh, a political science major, said he received an email from Jeremy W. Inabinet, associate dean of students, informing Hasweh that the university "received multiple complaints regarding the quad encampment that report issues related to disruptive conduct. 

Youssef Hasweh CBS 2

"In investigating the matter, you have been identified as an individual who may have been involved in the matter. It is also my understanding that you have applied for graduation from the College. Given the fact that you will be involved in the Disciplinary System for Disruptive Conduct and in consultation with the Faculty Chair, your degree will not be conferred until the resolution of this matter occurs."

Hasweh, who has family living in the West Bank, said he will be allowed to participate in Senior Week activities and walk in the graduation but will not receive his diploma until his case is resolved. He said family members are traveling from New York City for the ceremony.

"Graduation is in five days, and I have no idea what is even happening," Hasweh said of the pending investigation.

Hasweh said three other students also received emails from the university. In a statement, UChicago did not provide several students affected and only confirmed that it was investigating the complaints following university policy. 

"Degrees can be conferred expeditiously, depending upon the resolution," the university said in a statement.    

According to Hasweh, the email was sent eight days before graduation ceremonies, scheduled for June 1, and two weeks after UChicago police dismantled the pro-Palestinian encampment. 

"I cared about all of my classes even when I was watching my family be murdered in Palestine," he said. 

"I saw I had to show up to class and act like everything was normal, and I did, and I did everything that was asked of me, but the only thing that differentiates me and any other student at the University of Chicago is that I talked about Palestine and that's why my degree is gone." 

Hasweh said he and the three others who received the email about graduation were also charged with disciplinary violations after a sit-in at the university admissions lobby last year. Hasweh said the university eventually dismissed those charges. 

Police in riot gear disbanded the pro-Palestinian encampments at the University of Chicago on May 7. Nobody was arrested. 

A warning issued to students at the time said that failure to leave the encampment would result in "disciplinary action," including being "immediately placed on emergency interim leave of absence from the University."

Four days earlier, officers in riot gear separated protesters who are part of the UChicago United for Palestine encampment and a group of counter-protesters after the two groups clashed on the Main Quad of the Hyde Park campus.

The encampment was set up on the Main Quad – north of Swift Hall on April 29. The students joined a nationwide movement calling for immediate divestment from countries profiting from Israeli business amid the war in Gaza.  

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