6,000+ sign GMU petition to keep Glenn Youngkin from speaking at graduation
Students launched a petition on Mar. 23 to revoke Va. Gov. Glenn Youngkin's invitation over claims of 'harm' after George Mason University announced him as the commencement speaker.
The petition's author, the president of GMU NAACP, joins the Black, African-Heritage, and Caribbean Coalition and student government in her opposition. There are over 6,000 signatures as of Mar. 28.
On the day that George Mason University (GMU) announced Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin as its commencement speaker, students created a petition to cancel his engagement.
The student who launched the petition on Mar. 23 calls GMU’s choice “harmful and disrespectful” over claims that Youngkin “passed anti-trans legislation” and “promoted the abolishment of racial equity curricula.”
The ceremony is scheduled for May 18 in Fairfax, Va.
“From allowing homophobic, transphobic, racist, and/or anti-abortion groups to regularly occupy campus and harass passersby, to ignoring students and student organizations requesting assistance or support in their endeavors, [the] GMU administration has taken pride in the diversity of the student body,” according to the petition shared by Fox News.
“At the same time, however, the administration has failed to protect and defend those same students from harm.”
In a statement released on Mar. 27, GMU President Gregory Washington writes that the issues behind the students’ opposition–including Youngkin’s ban on critical race theory (CRT)–will not be solved by revoking his invitation.
“It is my sincere hope that our students use this opportunity to share their stories, challenges and triumphs, and that the Governor will hear their opinions, respectfully consider and reflect on them, and consider that feedback when making, amending or changing his administration’s policies,” the statement reads.
“This discourse highlights one of the fundamental purposes of a university. It is a place to engage, debate, and educate on topics where we agree and disagree, sometimes profoundly.”
GMU NAACP President Alaina Ruffin, the petition’s author, also demands that the university prevent Youngkin from even attending commencement. The petition has over 6,000 signatures as of Mar. 28.
Ruffin joins the GMU chapter of the Black, African-Heritage, and Caribbean Coalition (BLACC Mason) and student government in her opposition. Leadership in the latter, according to Fox News, accuses Youngkin of “creat[ing] policies attacking transgender youth, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ individuals” in a press release.
Members of BLACC Mason say that they feel “disappointed, devalued, and disturbed.”
The group writes in an Instagram post that “[c]ommencement day is a time” for students to “celebrate the great accomplishments of [their] graduating class.”
“We cannot allow the actions of Mason leadership and leaders of the Commonwealth … [to] taint the spirit of our community nor the significance of our peers and colleagues’ big day.”
Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for the governor, told Campus Reform that Youngkin “looks forward to addressing the 2023 graduates of George Mason University and celebrating their tremendous accomplishment.”
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.