Graduating students at Bethune-Cookman University disrespected Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she delivered the keynote speech at the commencement ceremony. The controversy was first kicked up last week after it was announced that DeVos would be the speaker.
Students roared and shouted while DeVos was speaking, turning their backs on her in an open act of defiance. “If this behavior continues your degrees will be mailed to you,” B-CU President Edison Jackson told the crowd as the boos became louder. “Choose which way you want to go.”
DeVos held her head high throughout the ordeal. She insisted that she welcomed the chance to start a dialogue with those who disagree with her. The students shouldn’t feel too proud about what they did. They’re adults leaving college and entering the real world. Have they never been taught how to handle conflict?
It’s okay if students don’t like DeVos; it’s okay if they believe that she was a poor choice for graduation speaker. But it’s inappropriate to behave like children during her speech. She deserves respect.
“I want to reaffirm this administration’s commitment to and support for HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) and the students they serve,” DeVos said. “Please know this: We support you and we will continue to support you.”
The left seems to be intent on proving their intolerance. Conservative speakers have been bullied off of campuses throughout America. Students no longer want to grapple with new ideas; they just want their own thinking to be confirmed. UC Berkeley has become so radicalized that students use violence to chase away conservative opponents.
“Dr. Bethune believed students – you – had an unlimited potential to affect positive change, and with good reason. She’d done it herself. As you leave, each of you will be called to embody courage in different ways and to rise to different challenges. The way you answer those calls will determine not just the future of you and your homes, but of your communities, this great nation, and your world” DeVos told the graduates.
“The natural instinct is to join in the chorus of conflict, to make your voice louder, your point bigger and your position stronger. But we will not solve the significant and real problems our country faces if we cannot bring ourselves to embrace a mindset of grace. We must first listen, then speak – with humility – to genuinely hear the perspectives of those with whom we don’t immediately or instinctively agree.”
Liberals have forgotten how to debate and instead rely heavily on protests. Students feel like they’re making a strong point by booing. If there are disagreements and questions about DeVos’s proposed policies, students could have used the opportunity to learn more about her and what motivates her decisions.
Not all B-CU students, however, were opposed to DeVos’ visit. “She’s awesome, I’m so glad she’s here,” Jacari Harris, a junior and former student body president, said. He was extremely pleased with the school’s choice of graduation speaker.
“She’s very transparent, she has a listening ear. We told her about some of the issues we are facing, about students who are single parents or come from single-parent families, even students who are homeless, and she agreed that we need to find a way to address all of this. She knows the need. It was a great dialogue.”
Harris was overjoyed at his meeting with DeVos while graduating senior Jasmine Johnson told the Washington Post that “for someone to come and speak at my commencement that cannot relate to me or know what I have been through is kind of like a slap in the face.”
B-CU officials remained strong despite facing pressure from the student body. Whereas as other schools have capitulated to students demands, B-CU refused to rescind DeVos’ invitation to speak. They realized that adults don’t need to be protected from dissenting opinions. Absolutely no one is harmed by listening to DeVos.
“I am of the belief that it does not benefit our students to suppress voices that we disagree with, or to limit students to only those perspectives that are broadly sanctioned by a specific community,” Jackson wrote in a statement released before graduation. “If our students are robbed of the opportunity to experience and interact with views that may be different from their own, then they will be tremendously less equipped for the demands of democratic citizenship.”