Students at a Virginia public school are rallying to get their governor removed as the commencement speaker for the upcoming graduation, according to reports.
George Mason University announced that Governor Glenn Youngkin will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming graduation ceremonies on Thursday. In a public statement, said they looked forward to Youngkin’s visit to campus and touted Youngkin’s passage of a budget which included $33.4 million in additional aid for George Mason students.
“We look forward to welcoming Governor Youngkin to speak to our graduating students, who we expect will comprise the largest and most diverse class of graduates ever,” George Mason President Gregory Washington said, according to the official university statement. “Governor Youngkin’s drive for lifelong learning and his entrepreneurial mindset is what we cultivate in all of our graduates.” (RELATED: Youngkin Joins Growing Number Of Governors Calling For Review Of Controversial AP Course)
Alaina Ruffin, a George Mason University senior, released a petition in response to the announcement, urging the university to rescind its invitation to Youngkin.
Petition · Oppose Youngkin as GMU Commencement Speaker · https://t.co/dEV5dhc18o https://t.co/YjCpPgZuMV
— Emily Cooper (@em_coopr) March 25, 2023
“Selecting a speaker that has passed anti-trans legislation, promoted the abolishment of racial equity curricula, and restricted the availability of literature in public schools is an intentional target towards historically marginalized communities comprising Mason,” Ruffin wrote, “It is harmful and disrespectful to the many students who continuously shape GMU’s community to bring in an individual who has also neglected the needs of Virginians.”
So far, over 5,300 have signed in support of the message.
“As a Patriot and prospective alumna of George Mason University, I and my peers do not want the memories of our graduation day to be tainted by an individual who has harmed and continues to harm the people he serves,” Ruffin added.
George Mason student government also released an open letter to the university, sharing “concern” over the selection of the governor as commencement speaker. According to the letter, the governor’s track record with racial minorities and the LGBT community makes him an inappropriate choice to speak on the campus. The letter accuses the university of committing a “betrayal towards every minority group on campus” by tapping Youngkin as speaker.