LA mayor on cancellation of USC commencement: ‘That was the decision that they had to make’

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass (D) said the University of Southern California (USC) officials needed to make a decision about commencement based on safety.

USC canceled its main commencement ceremony amid the ongoing pro-Palestinian protests and backlash the school received after nixing its valedictorian speech. Bass sidestepped whether she agreed with the school’s decision to cancel the ceremony but noted that other graduation events were still going on as planned.

“I believe that that was a decision that they had to make. They were expecting about 65,000 people on campus, and they just did not feel that it was going to be safe,” Bass said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

She also added that students who are missing their main commencement ceremony are likely students who also missed their high school graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

“Well, as you know, they didn’t cancel everything. So, the main graduation is canceled but the individual schools have graduations as well. So, there’s a lot of ceremonies that will be taking place, but like you said, I share that also the idea that they missed their graduation four years ago, but hopefully their individual schools will go forward peacefully,” Bass said.

USC is one of several schools across the nation that have been engulfed in pro-Palestinian protests for days. Many students involved in the demonstrations are calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war and are condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Bass also condemned any use of hate speech amid the protests.

“I mean as mayor, people have the right to free speech — but you know, hate speech, antisemitism, all of that. It’s just — it is unacceptable. All students on the campus need to feel safe,” she said.

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