Texas Southern petition Against Senator Giving Commencement Speech

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 08: Senate Judicary Committee member Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) listens to witnesses during a subcommittee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified to the subcommittee that she had warned the White House about contacts between former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and Russia that might make him vulnerable to blackmail. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In light of the drama behind Betsy DeVos being the commencement Keynote speaker for BCU, Texas Southern withdrew Senator John Cornyn invitation to give the commencement speech, as students and faculty members ask why black colleges invite politicians with records they think go against their interests.

The students of Texas Southern started a petition, The students’ petition referenced Cornyn’s support of stricter voter-ID laws, as well as his low rating with the NAACP. Said the petition on the Change.org site:
Having a politician such as him speak at our institution is an insult to the students, to TSU, and to all HBCUs.

This is our graduation. We have the right to decide if we want to refuse to sit and listen to the words of a politician who chooses to use his political power in ways that continually harm marginalized and oppressed people.
The Associated Press reports that the university released a press release stating, “Every consideration is made to ensure that our students’ graduation day is a celebratory occasion and one they will remember positively for years to come. We asked Sen. Cornyn to instead visit with our students again at a future date in order to keep the focus on graduates and their families. We, along with Sen. Cornyn, agree that the primary focus of commencement should be a celebration of academic achievement.”

The office of Senator Cornyn, a key member of the Senate Republican leadership, released a statement saying, “Senator Cornyn was honored to be invited to address TSU’s graduates, but he respects the administration’s decision and looks forward to continuing to engage with the university in the future.

To some, the student activism at Texas Southern and Bethune-Cookman is the latest sign that students are unwilling to listen to people with differing views. But to others, who note the role of commencement addresses in saluting graduates and their families, the invitations to DeVos and Cornyn suggest that some black college leaders are out of touch with their own students and that the strategy of currying favor with Republicans is angering many on campuses.

On one hand, I can see where “they” are coming from, I find listening to others views and acknowledging their perspectives can be somewhat helpful when making decisions about my next move in life. Everyone isn’t going to agree with you, have the same views as you; however, If you choose to listen you can take from the conversation or speeches what you need and use that to fuel your passion. On the other hand, there is something so satisfying about listening to a speaker who understands where you are and where you’re headed, a speaker who is relatable, when giving the speech it’s like they’re talking to you personally verses talking at a crowd. I feel these great institutions have good intentions they’re just missing the mark and that’s what’s upsetting if they were to talk to the students before making a decision a commencement speaker wouldn’t get boo’ed and graduations wouldn’t be tainted so to speak.

What are your thoughts?

1 Comment

  • Ed Bradford, Ph.D. Physics, retired from IBM Reply

    May 19, 2017 at 1:44 AM

    TSU students are too immature to make such judgements. I did when I was their age and I can truthfully testify, that my judgement was based on bling following. They were challenged to think when a speaker they thought they disagreed with was hired. They did not think and simply refused to listen to someone whose views differed from their own. TSU has failed their students. TSU failed their graduating class in that the graduates could not think for themselves, engage with those with whom they disagree and converse. BAD FORM! Is that surprising from Academic America, almost all of whose faculty are far-left?

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