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Community College of Denver graduation ceremony moved due to Auraria protests

AURORA, Colo. — The Community College of Denver (CCD) graduation ceremony, which is traditionally held on the Auraria Campus, was moved to the Lowry Campus due to the pro-Palestinian encampment on the Tivoli Quad.

More than 700 people attended Thursday’s ceremony.

CCD graduate Jiana Smith is used to sudden changes in her life after graduating from high school at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“My graduation in high school was just like a drive-in movie theater,” said Smith.

Although not ideal, Smith said the new graduation location was only a minor inconvenience and she looks forward to the next step in her life. Smith attained an associate’s degree in cybersecurity from CCD.

“I’m still graduating,” said Smith. “That’s the main thing that I’ve been concerned about recently.”

CCD officials said concerns about the graduation ceremony started after a group of student protesters at Denver’s Auraria Campus reportedly threatened to disrupt commencement ceremonies earlier this week. CCD President Marielena DeSanctis said the event was moved as a precaution.


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“I felt compelled to make sure that we protected the celebration in this important moment for our students the best that we could,” said DeSanctis.

The encampment at Auraria is one of dozens happening across the country since April 18 in response to Israel’s offensive in Gaza after the Israeli government vowed to destroy Hamas for the deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

At Auraria, organizers on May 1 announced new demands for college leadership, which they expanded to include Metropolitan State University of Denver. The encampment is asking the schools to divest from corporations operating in Israel, reject any funds from organizations with ties to the Israeli military, end study abroad programs in that country, and disclose financial investments.

Denver7 reached out to Student for a Democratic Society (SDS), who refuted CCD’s claims of threats towards their graduation ceremony. In a statement, SDS organizers said they had no intention to disrupt the ceremony.

“CCD does not have anything to worry about, as SDS does not have any demands from that school. Any demonstrations at graduation ceremonies will be peaceful in nature and are meant to expose corrupt administration and not take away from the accomplishments of students. We believe CCD is being used as a sacrificial lamb by the other universities, to make it seem like the students are causing all of these changes. In reality CCD is the one moving their ceremony and canceling in person classes for a student population that has the most working class students and least amount of resources.”

CCD’s graduation ceremony took place uninterrupted.

Smith applauded the actions of SDS and the Auraria encampment.

“The students and all the faculty that are participating in the protests, kudos to them for using their voice and speaking out,” said Smith.

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