USC banned a pro-Palestinian valedictorian from speaking because of safety concerns

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LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Citing safety concerns, USC announced Monday that a pro-Palestinian undergraduate student who was selected as valedictorian will not be allowed to give a speech at the May commencement ceremony, the first time the university has banned the valedictorian from speaking.
“While this is disappointing, tradition must give way to safety,” Provost Andrew Guzman wrote in a message to the university community.
In no way does it diminish the remarkable academic achievements of any student considered or selected for valedictorian.
Asna Tabassum, a major in biomedical engineering and a minor in “resistance to genocide,” had been previously announced as this year’s valedictorian.
CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush called the USC decision “cowardly” and the reasoning “disingenuous.”
USC students speak out Students who spoke with Eyewitness News on Monday believe groups honed in on Tabassum once she was bestowed with the valedictorian honor.
“She has earned it, 100%, being valedictorian at USC is no joke.
USC’s decision has reverberated throughout campus, and some graduating seniors say students are already thinking about what they will do at the commencement ceremony.


LOS ANGELES (KABC) — USC announced on Monday that an undergraduate student who supports Palestine and was chosen as valedictorian will not be able to speak at the commencement ceremony in May due to safety concerns. This is the first time the university has prohibited the valedictorian from speaking.

Provost Andrew Guzman sent a message to the university community saying, “While this is disappointing, tradition must give way to safety.”. The expectations of federal regulators and the basic legal duty that universities take action to safeguard students and ensure the safety of our campus community are both met by this decision, which is also required to preserve the safety of our students and campus.

It applies the same standards and principles that have previously directed our behavior. It in no way takes away from the outstanding academic achievements of any student who is a candidate or is chosen as valedictorian. To be clear, the freedom of speech is unaffected by this decision. A commencement speaker does not have the right to free speech. The question at hand is how to keep campus safety and security as high as possible. “.”.

The previous announcement of this year’s valedictorian was made by Asna Tabassum, a biomedical engineering major with a minor in “resistance to genocide.”. Critics questioned her online postings regarding her opinions on the Middle East conflict, though.

According to The Daily Trojan, Tabassum was accused of antisemitism by a pro-Israel group less than a week ago, which is when the cancellation occurred.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations-Los Angeles released a statement immediately after Guzman’s announcement, requesting that the ruling be overturned and that Tabassum be allowed to speak.

In a statement made possible by CAIR-LA, Tabassum stated that “my unwavering belief in human rights for all has subjected me to a campaign of racist hatred because of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian voices.”. “.”.

“It appears that the effort to stop me from speaking to my peers at commencement was successful because today, USC officials told me that they will no longer permit me to speak at commencement because of alleged security concerns,” she said. “This decision has shocked me, and it deeply disappoints me that the university is caving in to a hate campaign that aims to silence my voice.

“Those who try to spread hatred do not surprise me. My own university, where I spent four years of my life, abandoned me, which surprises me. “‘”.

Hussam Ayloush, the executive director of CAIR-LA, referred to the USC ruling as “cowardly” and the reasoning as “disingenuous.”. “‘”.

The valedictorian’s award for this year goes to Asna because of her extraordinary academic and extracurricular achievements, according to a statement from Ayloush. “A safe graduation environment is something the university can, should, and must provide rather than making the extraordinary decision to reschedule a valedictorian’s speech.

“The dishonest and slanderous attacks on Asna are nothing more than blatant examples of racism against Palestinians and Islamophobia, which have been turned into weapons against college students across the nation who stand up for Palestinian humanity and human rights. “.”.

In his message to the campus, Guzman said that the controversy surrounding the choice of valedictorian has assumed “an alarming tenor.”. “‘”.

Guzman wrote, “The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to disruption and security at commencement.”. “The fact that comparable risks have resulted in harassment and even violence at other campuses is something we cannot ignore.

“We must prioritize the safety of our community as always, and especially at this time when tensions are so high around the world,” he said. And as we do each year, we have been keeping an eye on our commencement security requirements in light of all the available data and the actual situation. We have conferred with our department of public safety’s (DPS) knowledgeable campus safety team, who are uniquely equipped to assess possible threats, taking into account not only our reality but also the extraordinary risks we are witnessing on other campuses and globally. We’re not going to waver in our resolve to preserve and put our USC community’s safety and well-being first in the upcoming weeks, so that those in attendance at commencement can concentrate on the festivities our graduates deserve. “‘”.

Students from USC speak up.

Students who spoke with Eyewitness News on Monday said they felt that after Tabassum was named valedictorian, groups focused on her.

Disapproving of the university’s decision, Jaela Bard said, “I think people went too far with, like, stalking things she had been liking and kind of like, trolling her on social media. I don’t think she deserved that.”.

Avi Pandit, a student, thinks Tabassum ought to “fully have the right” to speak.

Her status as USC’s valedictorian is no joke; she has earned it completely. He stated, “She doesn’t lose her right to free speech just because she posts something online or holds a certain belief.

The announcement from USC has caused a stir on campus, and some seniors who are graduating claim that students are planning their commencement speeches in advance.

“It’s quite divisive,” Amir Bell, a senior at USC, said. Some students have already declared, ‘Well, I’m going to wear a pin or something,’ but the controversy has swept our campus and is extremely divisive. “.

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