A group of young graduates in academic robes and caps, walking away from an outdoor university commencement stage decorated with banners of Duke University, while a middle-aged man, resembling Jerry S

Duke University graduates exit before Jerry Seinfeld’s commencement speech, according to CBS News

Controversy at Duke University’s Commencement Ceremony

In an unexpected turn of events during Duke University’s latest commencement ceremony, a significant number of graduates exited the venue prior to the commencement speech delivered by comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The incident, as reported by CBS News, sparks interest and debate around the circumstances that led to such a decision by the students.

The Lead-Up to the Commencement Speech

The commencement day at Duke University began under typical circumstances, with a celebratory atmosphere as graduates, faculty, and family members gathered to mark the significant milestone in the students’ academic lives. Jerry Seinfeld, a renowned comedian known for his wit and observational humor, was slated as the keynote speaker for the event, an announcement that had previously been met with enthusiasm.

Reasons Behind the Graduates’ Exit

According to CBS News, the unexpected mass exit by the students was not a spontaneous decision but a protest against Jerry Seinfeld’s perceived views and statements in recent years, which some students found troubling. Issues cited included comments Seinfeld had made about political correctness on college campuses, which some students felt were dismissive of important social issues. Interviews conducted by CBS revealed that many students felt that Seinfeld’s views did not align with the progressive values held by the student body.

The Actual Exit – What Happened?

As Jerry Seinfeld was introduced, reports suggest that as many as one-third of the graduates began to quietly leave the seating area. The departure was neither disruptive nor accompanied by protests or chants; rather, it appeared to be a silent statement. Footage from the event shows a noticeable thinning of graduates in the audience, highlighting the scale of the walk-out.

Reactions to the Exit

The incident elicited mixed reactions from various quarters. On social media, some applauded the graduates for taking a stand on their values, while others criticized them for disrespecting the invited speaker. Additionally, family members and friends in attendance expressed a range of feelings, from surprise to disappointment, over the disruption of what is traditionally a celebratory event.

Response from Duke University and Jerry Seinfeld

In response to the incident, Duke University issued a statement emphasizing the importance of diverse viewpoints and the freedom of expression that the institution upholds. The statement also expressed regret that the day meant to celebrate academic achievements was overshadowed by controversy. Jerry Seinfeld, on the other hand, did not directly address the walk-out during his speech but later noted in an interview that he respected the students’ rights to express their opinions and hoped for a broader dialogue on the issues raised.

Broader Implications

The events at Duke University’s commencement ceremony highlight ongoing tensions in academic environments regarding free speech and political correctness. The incident serves as a catalyst for further discussions on how universities can navigate the intersection of free expression and the inclusive values they strive to uphold.


The commencement ceremony at Duke University was supposed to be a day of celebration, yet it ended up being a significant moment of reflection for the institution, its graduates, and potentially for other academies across the nation. As higher education continues to grapple with these complex issues, the Duke ceremony will likely be remembered as a poignant example of the growing pains that come with adapting to an ever-evolving societal landscape.


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