Vanderbilt students expelled, suspended for participation in unruly pro-Palestinian protests

Vanderbilt students expelled, suspended for participation in unruly pro-Palestinian protests

Several Vanderbilt University students have been expelled, one has been suspended, and more than 20 have been placed on probation after last month’s rowdy demonstration protesting the administration’s removal of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) initiative. 

That’s according to the Vanderbilt Divest Coalition (VDC), the group which put forth an amendment to the Vanderbilt Student Government Constitution that would prevent government funds from going to certain businesses that support Israel. 

The proposed amendment collected more than 600 signatures and qualified for a student ballot, but was removed by the university, prompting nearly 30 students to march into the halls of Vanderbilt Chancellor Daniel Diermeier’s office to hold a sit-in on March 26.  

Vanderbilt and VDC display

Vanderbilt and a VDC display.

The university has alleged that some students physically assaulted a Community Service Officer (CSO) to gain entrance and pushed staff members. VDC has described the protest as “peaceful.” 

A Nashville Scene reporter was also detained outside the building after repeatedly attempting to enter several doors of the administrative building, Kirkland Hall, before being asked to leave.   

The sit-in protest lasted more than 20 hours. More than 30 additional students were on the steps outside the building protesting for hours even though they faced threats of suspension and forced removal. 


On Friday, VDC said that three students had been expelled, one student had been suspended, and more than 20 were on “disciplinary probation for peacefully protesting for Palestine.” 

The group accused Chancellor Diermeier of being “notoriously cruel to student protesters.” 

Nashville, TN, USA - July 10, 2013: The exterior of Kirkland Hall on the campus of Vanderbilt University. The building is the oldest on campus dating from 1874.

Vanderbilt refused to confirm the number of expulsions and suspensions. (iStock)

“All students are going through the appeal process to rectify these grossly oppressive decisions from administration. We only had one ask: let us vote,” VDC said in a social media post, before calling on other students to join them in a walkout on Monday at noon. 

The university declined to confirm the group’s numbers on expulsions and suspensions, citing federal privacy laws. 

“After a thorough review of the incident, including examination of evidence and interviews with students, the Student Accountability Community Standards and Academic Integrity staff issued a range of findings and sanctions that took the individual circumstances of each student’s conduct into account,” Vanderbilt Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver said Friday. “The sanctions included disciplinary probation as well as suspension and expulsion.” 


Students have 10 days to appeal their case to the university’s Appellate Review Board. During the appeal process, students will be able to return to classes. 

Fox News Digital’s Kendall Tietz contributed to this report.

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