Students react to USC making rare cancellation of speech by valedictorian who supported Palestinians

(16 Apr 2024)

Los Angeles – 16 April 2024
1. Various of the University of Southern California campus
2. SOUNDBITE (English) Dylan Luden, journalism student:
"The USC administration came out yesterday and said that our valedictorian will not be giving a speech this year due to safety concerns that they have. Apparently there has been threats about her views that were pro-Palestinian."
3. Buildings are shown on campus
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Dylan Luden, journalism student:
"So they took back her speech. And from what I know, this is the first time that a USC valedictorian will not be giving a speech."
5. A sign on a university building
6. SOUNDBITE (English) Dylan Luden, journalism student:
"I think a lot of people are upset about that. And it’s kind of people are like believing that it’s just kind of limiting her free speech. They’re just confused as to why, you know, she’s not going to be able to due to security concerns when there was a former president on our campus literally last year in Barack Obama."
7. Student Daphne Yaman holds up stickers in support of Palestinians
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Daphne Yaman, student:
"Obviously, there’s now a lot of pushback coming from students, including myself, because they are silencing a brown hijabi woman’s voice, first generation, STEM from speaking at our commencement when she rightfully earned that position."
9. A sign on campus
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Isabella Griggs, student:
"Well, first of all, I think that she should speak because there was no inkling of her causing any harm. And she’s talking about issues that are important to not only our university and to students, but to the world. And I think that that is someone that should speak as a valedictorian and like she’s more than qualified."
11. Students walk to classes
12. A statue on campus
13. SOUNDBITE (English) Mohammed Zain Shafi Khan, student:
"She embodies what it means to be a valedictorian for USC and to take that away from her- at least the honor that comes attached to it- is extremely disappointing because this is her moment to enjoy. This is her graduation."
14. A sign on campus promotes the upcoming graduation commencement
The University of Southern California has canceled a commencement speech by its 2024 valedictorian, a Muslim student who has expressed support for Palestinians, citing substantial security risks for the event that draws 65,000 people to campus.

The decision was announced in a statement Monday by Andrew T. Guzman, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Guzman cited the “alarming tenor” of reaction to the school’s choice of valedictorian.

The valedictorian is Asna Tabassum, who is graduating with a major in biomedical engineering and a minor in resistance to genocide.

Tabassum says in a statement to the Los Angeles Times the university abandoned her after she was subjected to racist hatred by anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian voices.


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Author: admin