Virginia Graduates Walk Out As Glenn Youngkin Delivers Commencement Speech


Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Jason Cohen Contributor
Font Size:

Scores of students at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) staged a walkout during their Saturday morning graduation ceremony as Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin took the podium to deliver a commencement address, The Washington Post reported.

The walkout, which consisted of approximately 100 out of 1,200 students, was a display of support for Palestinians and a demonstration against Youngkin’s stance against racial equity initiatives in schools, according to the Post. Youngkin and Virginia’s colleges and universities, including VCU, are battling over whether tax-payer funding should go toward diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts. (RELATED: Biden Admin Wants To Force Companies To Hire Criminals In The Name Of Equity)


Most students left quietly, with some holding signs, two of which read, “Teach Black history” and “Book bans [do not equal] respect for learning,” and some holding kaffiyeh scarves, according to the Post. Youngkin’s speech nor the program were interrupted.

“I think that anyone who thinks they’re going to disrupt this for their own personal goals, I think it’s misguided,” Youngkin told reporters on Tuesday at an unrelated event in response to requests for him not to deliver the address, according to the Post. “Let’s celebrate the students. Let’s honor the students. And let’s challenge the students to take the amazing education that they have received from Virginia Commonwealth University and go make the world better.”

The Youngkin administration has been engaging with the state’s universities over curriculum requirements that could force DEI initiatives on students as well as the bloat funding for related positions at the schools. Virginia public universities, on average, have the biggest DEI bureaucracies out of every state in the nation, according to a September report from the Heritage Foundation.

Virginia authorities and pro-Palestinian protesters clashed in late April on VCU’s campus as a group of demonstrators convened outside of a school library to establish a “Liberation Zone.” Emergency sirens went off and students allegedly received alerts that a shelter-in-place had been ordered on the campus.

Pro-Palestinian protesters also interrupted a Saturday commencement ceremony at the University of California, Berkeley, as audience members chanted during student body president Sydney Roberts’ speech, according to NBC News. Around 20 students rose out of their seats, waved signs and Palestinian flags and chanted “Free Palestine” before security guards escorted them to the rear of the venue.

Approximately 75 pro-Palestinian students walked up the main aisle at the University of Michigan’s commencement ceremony on May 4, many chanting and holding Palestinian flags, before being escorted to the back of the stadium. Students attempted to shout down the protesters, telling them to “shut the fuck up.”

“To VCU graduates: you will enter a world with countless opportunities, infinite choices, and many defining moments,” Youngkin said during his speech. “Your life is a symphony going forward, you will be composing your symphony, you will be performing in your symphony, and you will be conducting your symphony. You will dictate what you compose. I encourage you to see opportunities for addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division. We need your talents, your dreams, your aspirations and your contributions that certainly will make tomorrow better than today.”

VCU did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact