USA

University students boo US Education Secretary at commencement

University students boo US Education Secretary at commencement

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos speaks to graduates at Bethune-Cookman University on Wednesday in Daytona Beach, Fla. "But we will not solve the significant and real problems our country faces if we can not bring ourselves to embrace a mindset of grace". Roughly half the students present turned their backs on her as she spoke. "In February, DeVos made an unsettling statement inferring that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), of which Bethune-Cookman is one, are the 'real pioneers when it comes to school choice, '" the petition said.

"The bottom line is Secretary DeVos doesn't share our community's values and continues to misunderstand the impact and legacy that historically black colleges and universities have played in public education and America", the group said in a written statement. University president Edison O. Jackson tried to calm the protesters down, threatening to withhold their degrees and instead send the certificates in the mail, but the backlash continued, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

DeVos was able to finish her speech but not without being forced to pause as outraged students shouted and audibly booed her comments.

Moments later, DeVos told the crowd that she would be visiting the grave of the school's founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, later that day.

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"Choose which way you want to go", said Jackson.

Bethune-Cookman traces its history to 1904 and is one of the oldest institutions among US historically black colleges and universities - schools where African-American students make up a large proportion of the student body. Let's choose to hear each other out.

In her speech, DeVos praised Bethune-Cookman for providing the means to help its students overcome adversity and serve others.

Whatever the reason behind Jackson's decision to invite an enemy of HBCUs into the students' midst, I was entirely pleased with all the videos that came down the Twitter timeline showing them resisting.

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"If a school is not meeting a child's unique needs, then that school is failing that child", Devos said at summit run by Arizona State University and Global Silicon Valley.

Jackson had to interrupt DeVos' speech to warn the graduates to calm down.

Given the amount of opposition to the idea of DeVos as keynote speaker, it'd become apparent by Tuesday that some form of protest would be likely. Journalists covering the ceremony also reported that multiple graduates stood with their backs to DeVos throughout much of her speech.

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