Columbia University President Minouche Shafik apologized to students on Wednesday after the university canceled the main university commencement in favor of smaller events over security concerns stemming from anti-Israel protests that overtook the campus in recent weeks.

Shafik wrote that she was “deeply sorry” to those graduating from the Ivy League institution in an op-ed published in the Columbia Daily Spectator.

“Canceling the traditional Commencement ceremony was one of the toughest calls in a year of many tough calls,” Shafik wrote. “I recognize the toll the past few months have taken on your university experience, and I want you to know that I am deeply sorry for the disappointment that many of you may be feeling as a result.” 

University officials announced last week that the university-wide commencement, which would have been held Wednesday, would be replaced with a series of smaller “class days” and school-level ceremonies over security concerns following a wave of antisemitic protests that resulted in more than 100 arrests.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY STUDENT IN HANDCUFFS RIPS UP DIPLOMA ON COMMENCEMENT STATE IN ACT OF PROTEST

Shafik at Columbia graduation ceremony

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik told graduates that she was “deeply sorry” over the cancellation of the university-wide commencement. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File)

Shafik also acknowledged the “strain” that the anti-Israel protests put on the campus community, including its Jewish members.

Student protesters gather in protest inside their encampment on the Columbia University campus

Student protesters gather in protest inside their encampment on the Columbia University campus on Monday, April 29, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

“The conflict between the rights of pro-Palestinian protesters and the impact that their protests have had on some members of our Jewish community is what makes this moment singularly fraught,” Shafik wrote.

COLUMBIA CANCELING GRADUATION CEREMONY SHOWS ‘INMATES ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM’: STUDENTS

Shafik wrote that she and other university leaders “must ask a series of hard questions” in the wake of the anti-Israel protests. 

Pro-Palestinian supporters rally outside Columbia University

A anti-Israel rally is held at the steps of Lowe Library on the grounds of Columbia University on April 22, 2024, in New York City. In response to recent campus unrest, the university opted to hold smaller ceremonies rather than a larger commencement ceremony. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

“For instance, we know that virtually no one wants the police on our campus, including the police,” she wrote. “So, what are the options for agreeing on and enforcing our own norms and rules to make sure everyone is safe and can pursue their academic endeavors?”

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Shafik concluded by noting the difficult circumstances that this year’s graduating class has had to deal with, from the time they started to the time they finished.

“Your university experience was bookended by COVID-19 and conflict, which no doubt made you acutely aware of how events in the world affect our lives,” she wrote. “You are the future leaders of a world that has never needed you more.”

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