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A&M-San Antonio graduate demonstrates pro-Palestinian support at commencement ceremony

A&M-San Antonio graduate demonstrates pro-Palestinian support at commencement ceremony - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Communications graduate Noah Yepez pulls out a banner from inside his gown to reveal a handmade sign that reads “END THE GENOCIDE” at Texas A&M University-San Antonio's May 13 College of Arts and Sciences graduation ceremony at Freeman Coliseum. Photo courtesy of Noah Yepez

More than 600 students walked the stage at Freeman Coliseum for Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s commencement ceremony on May 13.

During the 10 a.m. College of Arts and Sciences ceremony, one graduate chose to use his time in the spotlight to show support for Palestine.

After receiving his degree, communications graduate Noah Yepez turned to the front of the stage and pulled out a banner that was tucked inside his gown to reveal a handmade sign that read “END THE GENOCIDE.”

Yepez said he displayed a message people would not be able to misinterpret.

“I thought of speech that wouldn’t be torn apart if you were to read it,” said Yepez. “When writing it, I thought of everything that’s going on, not just in the Middle East, but across the world. I wanted a statement that you wouldn’t be able to shoot down. It made sense instead of giving people something to tear at.”

The graduating class and their families and friends in the audience reacted with claps and cheers as Yepez held the banner on stage for several seconds.

Yepez explained he wanted to make the statement despite his nerves.

“It didn’t matter how nervous I was. I thought about whether a professor was going to stop me or if students were not going to be receptive to it, but it had to be said. Which is what I thought [was] more important than anything else,” Yepez explained.

Once the applause came to an end, Yepez placed the banner on the ground. A few graduates that followed after him stepped around the banner to avoid directly stepping on Yepez’s demonstration.

“Truthfully, what I was more worried about was the guy that was graduating after me. I gave him a heads up about what I was planning,” said Yepez.

Yepez said he was concerned for the graduate who followed behind him because he didn’t want to take the moment away from anyone.

Yepez said he had told the graduate in line behind him what he was planning on doing.

The sign was eventually picked up off the ground after a few minutes by an A&M-San Antonio faculty member that was on stage congratulating and presenting students with their degrees.

Although Yepez was the only graduate from A&M-San Antonio to display any form of pro-Palestinian protest during the May 14 ceremony, many students across the country have held their own demonstrations.

Students at universities around the country have displayed similar pro-Palestinian actions during graduation ceremonies in stern opposition against Biden and U.S. policies involving the conflict in Gaza.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @jags4palestine

Jags for Palestine, a pro-Palestinian student organization at A&M-San Antonio, commended Yepez’s actions in an Instagram post following the demonstration.

The post read “Thank you Noah for having the courage to take a stand and speak up! Keep up the great work, and Jags4Palestine congratulates you on your graduation and your moving and powerful statement during the ceremony!”

Yepez hopes that his actions have inspired others to speak on causes that they believe in.

“Activism for me has always just kinda been something that I was taught, whether it be by the internet or by moral stances that my family has taken. It’s just kinda something that I grew up with,” Yepez said.

A&M-San Antonio has not made an official statement regarding Yepez or his form of protest.

About the Author

Renne Estrada
Staff Writer
Renne Estrada is a communications senior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She transferred from Sul Ross State University in fall 2023. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling with her husband, shopping, and trying new restaurants. She wants to explore a career in public relations or working in social media management after graduating. She hopes to one day create a nonprofit that supports non-traditional college students.

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