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NYU commencement ceremony marred by sudden exit of several students. Here's why they did it.

NYU commencement goes off well, but with a slight hitch
NYU commencement goes off well, but with a slight hitch 01:52

NEW YORK -- A few dozen students exited Yankee Stadium during New York University's commencement ceremony on Wednesday.

As school President Linda Mills gave her speech, a few dozen pro-Palestinian supporters, some with their hands painted red, walked out.

The group continued to stand outside the stadium and chant as people filed out of the ceremony.

"I couldn't be here at this graduation and listen to Linda ask us to uphold the values that such a university should maintain, and then not act on them," one protester said.

NYU was the site of an encampment and numerous protests over the last month, with demonstrators speaking out against the Israel-Hamas war and demanding the school show financial transparency, divest from Israel and grant amnesty to the more than 100 students arrested during a protest the week before.

Eventually, NYU wrote to the NYPD and asked it to clear the encampment, which it did without incident.

NYU students thrilled commencement was not canceled

Wednesday's 191st commencement continued on with the class of 2024 closing one chapter and looking forward to what's ahead.

"It feels amazing," graduate Daneja Cureton said.

"At first it was a little bittersweet, but I'm very happy now," Markeila Dawkins said.

Thousands of students are celebrating in a way they hadn't before.

"I'm just glad I actually get to graduate for real this time because class of 2020 was COVID," Monica Williams said.

Many students who spoke to CBS New York said they are grateful the ceremony went on as planned after a full commencement was in question following weeks of protests on campus.

Columbia University canceled its main commencement, opting instead for smaller ceremonies.

"I feel bad for the Columbia students that didn't get to walk, but I'm so happy the university gave us this opportunity because it's important," graduate Christiana Giwa said.

"As a Jewish student, it really means a lot to be here today, especially because with the protests going on, the safety of a lot of me and my friends has been in question," Talia Malekan said.

NYU statement on commencement

NYU spokesperson John Beckman shared the following statement with CBS New York:

Today's Commencement was a joyful 2 1/2 hours for the 40,000 NYU graduates and guests at Yankee Stadium. A tiny fraction of the crowd walked out. It had no impact on the proceedings, which carried on without interruption, and the overwhelming majority of the tens of thousands attendees enjoyed the Commencement Exercises very much and took great pride in honoring NYU's grads.

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