White House adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump was set to deliver pre-recorded remarks at Wichita State University Tech’s virtual commencement ceremony on Saturday.
Thanks to backlash from one “horrified and disgusted” professor, however, that invitation has now been revoked.
In a statement Thursday, the school’s president announced that “in light of the social justice issues brought forth by George Floyd’s death,” Ivanka Trump would no longer be part of the ceremony.
Due to the issues brought about by the current health crisis, Trump, who was invited to speak at the ceremony in February, had filmed a virtual address to graduates.
But once Jennifer Ray, an associate professor of photo media at Wichita State University, found out about Trump’s involvement, she decided to speak out against it.
“It has recently come to my attention that Ivanka Trump is set to speak at WSU Tech’s virtual graduation ceremony this coming Saturday. As a faculty member at Wichita State University, I am horrified and disgusted,” Ray said in an open letter published in The Sunflower, an independent, WSU student-run newspaper.
“While I understand that WSU doesn’t have direct decision-making control over WSU Tech, as its academic partner, we can expect to be impacted by its actions. We have considerable influence over our partner institution, and have a responsibility to do all that we can to discourage it from acting in ways that send a hateful message to our collective community.”
Ray went on to say that Ivanka Trump “represents her father’s administration.
….It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
Ray also claimed the president “has not called for an end to racist policing,” which is based on the concept of systemic police racism that Heather Mac Donald recently contested in an Op-Ed for The Wall Street Journal.
At the end of her letter, the professor called out WSU President Dr. Jay Golden and asked him to “make it clear that there will be consequences for WSU Tech’s actions should they proceed.”
Later Thursday, Dr. Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech, released a statement announcing that Ivanka Trump would no longer be part of the commencement ceremony.
“Earlier today, WSU Tech announced that Ivanka Trump, advisor to the president of the United States, is a planned speaker at the college’s virtual commencement ceremony scheduled for Saturday, June 6,” Utash said.
“The invitation was extended in February and Ms. Trump offered to record a congratulatory message to graduates to be played during our event. In light of the social justice issues brought forth by George Floyd’s death, I understand and take responsibility that the timing of the announcement was insensitive.
“For this, I’m sorry that was never the intent, and I want you to know I have heard you and we are responding.”
The first daughter responded Friday on Twitter by sharing the full video she had filmed for the WSU Tech graduates, along with a condemnation of “cancel culture” and “viewpoint discrimination.”
Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia.
Listening to one another is important now more than ever!https://t.co/VW6W8TIL9c
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) June 5, 2020
“Here is the message I recorded on May 18th for the Graduates of WSU-Tech. I know that all of these talented graduates will dream big and aspire to make the world a better place!” Trump wrote.
“Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia. Listening to one another is important now more than ever!”
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