George Mason University announced that Virginia Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin will perform at the institution’s 2023 commencement ceremony in May, and some students are pushing to cancel his speech.
University students started a petition Thursday, the same day Youngkin was announced as the speaker, asking that Younkgin not be allowed to speak and attend the May 18 commencement ceremony.
“As patriots and future alumni of George Mason University, I and my peers do not want our graduation day memories to be tainted by a person who has harmed and continues to harm the people he serves,” senior Alaina Ruffin wrote. demand “On behalf of the GMU Class of 2023, we ask that you sign this petition and demand that George Mason University administration take appropriate action to prevent Governor Youngkin from attending or speaking at the Spring 2023 commencement ceremony.
Ruffin appeared to take particular issue with the governor’s record in passing legislation on transgender issues and controversial school curricula. His administration’s proposals have included banning transgender students from using bathrooms or participating in sports teams that do not match their biological sex, and banning critical race theory and sexually explicit books from schools.
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George Mason University announced that Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin will be the commencement speaker at the institution’s 2023 graduation ceremony in May. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Electing a speaker who has passed trans legislation, promoted the elimination of racial equality curricula, and limited the availability of literature in public schools is a deliberate target for the historically marginalized communities Mason represents,” Ruffin wrote. “It is hurtful and disrespectful to the many students who continue to make up the GMU community to bring in someone who has also neglected the needs of Virginians.”
“George Mason University prides itself on being one of the ‘most diverse institutions in the Commonwealth.’ However, by having Governor Youngkin as this year’s Commencement speaker, we believe the University is compromising its supposed values of focusing on the student experience and overall well-being,” he continued. “In satisfying its desire to appease a powerful few, the University, once again, has abandoned these principles.”
More than 5,100 people have signed the petition since Sunday morning.
The university’s student government also said it was “deeply saddened and concerned” by the decision to hire Young as the commencement speaker.
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George Mason University students filed a petition on May 18 asking that Younkgin not be allowed to speak or participate. (Getty)
“Youngkin’s administration has supported and created policies that attack transgender youth, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ+ people,” the student government leadership wrote in a press release. “George Mason University’s current motto is ‘Promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion,’ yet the actions of the Youngkin administration demonstrate their commitment to the opposite. Our spring commencement welcoming of Glenn Youngkin is not only a betrayal of all minorities. campus group, but it heightens the hypocrisy and dishonesty of Mason’s administration itself.”
BLACC Mason, the college’s black, African heritage and Caribbean coalition, also released a statement opposing Youngkin as the commencement speaker.
“It is our responsibility as members of this community to stand up against bigotry and intolerance,” the group wrote on Instagram. “We must demand that our administration step up and remove Youngkin as the commencement speaker. We cannot allow our university to provide a platform for someone who actively promotes discrimination and hatred.”
Some students at George Mason University are pushing to cancel his commencement speech because of transgender issues and the history of race in education. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Youngkin will address the college’s class of 2023 at EagleBank Arena on May 18, becoming the latest Virginia governor to address Mason graduates, joining former governors Jim Gilmore, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine and Terry McAuliffe.
“Governor Youngkin’s passion for lifelong learning and his entrepreneurial mindset are what we instill in all of our graduates,” Mason University President Gregory Washington said in a statement.