USC Cancels Pro-Palestinian Valedictorian’s Speech Over Safety

USC also confirmed that their 2024 valedictorian speech had been canceled after Muslim student Asna Tabassum was accused of being antisemitic.

The university cites safety concerns over banning Tabassum from delivering her graduation speech.

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“While this is disappointing, tradition must give way to safety,” Provost Andrew Guzman said in a statement. “This decision is not only necessary to maintain the safety of our campus and students, but is consistent with the fundamental legal obligation — including the expectations of federal regulators — that universities act to protect students and keep our campus community safe.”

Guzman continued, “It applies the same values and criteria that we have used in the past to guide our actions. In no way does it diminish the remarkable academic achievements of any student considered or selected for valedictorian. To be clear: this decision has nothing to do with freedom of speech. There is no free-speech entitlement to speak at a commencement. The issue here is how best to maintain campus security and safety, period.”

In an interview with ABC7, Tabassum said the university didn’t give her any specifics over why they canceled her speech, “Almost a one-way conversation – and then the next day they came to me, they gave me a call and said ‘It’s unfortunate, but you don’t get to speak.'”

Tabassum said she doesn’t regret her political stand, adding, “I stand by exactly what I stand by. It is the very values and the very lessons USC taught me that I stand by. And I don’t believe it’s ironic for me to minor in something called resistance to genocide, and then speak out on it and then be revoked because I’m penalized for something that people have an issue with.”

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