DeVos praises BCU students who shunned her at commencement
- Students at Bethune-Cookman University showed their disdain for Betsy DeVos by turning their backs on the Secretary of Education while she delivered their commencement address.
- Prior to the ceremony, a petition demanding that her invitation be rescinded garnered nearly 9,000 signatures.
- DeVos reacted graciously after the event, tweeting out effusive praise for the students, calling peaceful protest "one of the hallmarks of higher education."
Students at Bethune-Cookman University showed their disdain for Betsy DeVos by turning their backs on the Secretary of Education while she delivered their commencement address.
Students at the historically-black college had vehemently protested DeVos’ invitation prior to the ceremony, even collecting nearly 9,000 signatures for a petition demanding that the invitation be rescinded.
“With all the facts provided, why on earth would Bethune-Cookman University invited Secretary DeVos to be the commencement speakers for their spring graduation ceremony?” the petition asked, saying the school “doesn’t need a photo op from the Trump Administration,” but rather, “action done by this administration for all HBCUs.”
Notably, President Trump did recently sign an executive order that revives a White House initiative on HBCUs, and a White House press release boasted at the time that the Trump administration would do more for such institutions than the nation’s first black president ever did.
Nonetheless, DeVos was drowned out by boos throughout her speech, and at one point the graduating class collectively turned their backs on her, as shown in a livestream video of the event.
DeVos, however, praised the graduates in a series of tweets after her speech, saying the school’s “many remarkable students” made her “optimistic for America’s future” because she considers open discourse a vital component of both higher education and democracy.
“I have respect for all those who attended Bethune-Cookman, including those who demonstrated their disagreement with me today,” she added. “While we may share differing points of view, my visit and dialogue with students leaves me encouraged and committed to supporting HBCUs.”
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