The University of Utah will not allow protesters to disrupt graduation ceremonies

SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah is taking some extra safety measures for graduation amid the threat of another protest on campus.

U of U officials said the university will have several police stations available 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 the Utah Highway Patrol are just two of the law enforcement agencies in Salt Lake County that will assist campus police as needed.

Additional police officers at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Additional police officers at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. (KSL TV)

U of U spokesperson Chris Williams said they will allow anyone to protest peacefully. They will not allow any disruptions to the ceremony.

“Standing and turning your back, which doesn’t feel that way, would disrupt the ceremony. I think chanting, anything that disrupts the speaker or takes away from our students’ celebration would be great. We would ask the police to intervene and escort these people out,” Williams said.

Signs at the University of Utah state that no signs or banners are allowed in the arena, and that includes bags. Visitors will have to go through metal detectors.

A sign asking visitors not to bring signs or banners.

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

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

“We fully support free speech and fully appropriate speech, the right of speech on our campus. So that’s not what we’re worried about. It is disrupting an event or setting up encampments. We have been closely following what has happened nationally. We will not allow this to happen,” Williams said.

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

One protester was put in handcuffs and walked off campus. KSL TV has not confirmed whether the protester was arrested or why he was placed in handcuffs.

At least one social media post called for students to possibly 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 will only be hosting tonight and will not be giving a speech.