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Penn celebrates class of 2024 at 268th commencement despite ongoing pro-Palestinian protests

University of Pennsylvania celebrates its 268th commencement
University of Pennsylvania celebrates its 268th commencement 02:18

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The University of Pennsylvania held its 268th commencement on alert following weeks-long pro-Palestinian protests on campus. This year has been tumultuous for the Ivy League gem

"I'm just really happy to even graduate in person right now because some schools like USC, they were dealing with stuff or weren't able to have commencement ceremony," Henry Illanya, a Wharton School of Business graduate, said. 

University officials increased security on Monday following weeks of protests calling for the university to divest from financial ties to Israel

This Friday marks two weeks since a pro-Palestinian encampment was disbanded following calls from Penn's Jewish community to remove it.

Last week, 19 people, including seven Penn students, were taken into custody after pro-Palestinian protesters broke into and attempted to occupy Fisher-Bennett Hall on campus. Seven of those 19 are now facing felony charges. 

Penn students say they'll "never forget" 2024 commencement after graduating high school virtually 02:06

"I'm definitely glad we got to come out here and celebrate among the ongoing tension," said Malachi Wiley, who graduated and competed on Penn's wrestling team. 

Six thousand graduating students and their loved ones celebrated the milestone. The students were a part of the COVID-19 generation and didn't graduate high school in person.

"Not being able to experience my high school graduation, it was a really hard time for me and all my friends," said Sam Carlson, who played on Penn's football team. "I'm so grateful to have this experience since we have a lot of stuff going on with campus right now." 

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