EDUCATION & SCHOOLS

University of Utah is not allowing protesters to disrupt graduation ceremonies

May 2, 2024, 6:16 PM | Updated: May 3, 2024, 9:12 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah is taking some extra security measures for graduation amid threats of another protest on campus.

U of U officials said the university will have several police agencies on hand at the Huntsman Center on Thursday.

The University of Utah Police Department has only about 40 officers. According to a university spokesperson, the Salt Lake City Police Department and Utah Highway Patrol are just two of the police agencies in Salt Lake County that will assist campus police if necessary.

Extra police officers inside of the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Extra police officers inside of the Jon M. Huntsman Center. (KSL TV)

University spokesman Chris Williams said they would allow anyone to protest peacefully. They will not allow disruptions to the ceremony.

“Standing and turning their back, that that that does not feel like that would disrupt the ceremony. I think chanting, anything that disrupts the speaker or takes away from the celebration of our students, would be great. We would ask law enforcement to step in and help escort those folks out,” Williams said.

Signs posted at the university state that no signs or banners are allowed in the arena, and neither are bags. Attendees will have to go through metal detectors.

A sign asking visitors not to bring in signs or banners.

A sign asking visitors not to bring in signs or banners. (KSL TV)

Williams said the university expects about 10,000 people to attend the ceremony.

“We are totally in it for free expression and totally appropriate expression, right to speech on our campus. So that’s not what we’re worried about. It is the disrupting of an event or the setting up of encampments. We’ve watched very closely what’s happened nationally. We will not allow that to happen,” Williams said.

At approximately 5:30 p.m., a small group of demonstrators gathered at the Huntsman Center.

A demonstrator was placed in handcuffs and walked off campus. An officer later told a KSL photographer the arrest was made for something that happened earlier this week.

At least one post on social media called on students to potentially interrupt U of U President Taylor Randall during the ceremony.

Williams said if that happens, they will pause the ceremony while they escort people out. He noted that Randall is only acting as emcee tonight and not giving a speech.

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University of Utah is not allowing protesters to disrupt graduation ceremonies