USA

Over 50000 peititons protesting Betsy DeVos commencement speech

Over 50000 peititons protesting Betsy DeVos commencement speech

On Wednesday, Betsy DeVos stopped by Bethune-Cookman University in order to give the historically black school's commencement address.

The school president, Edison O. Jackson tried to get the students to calm down by threatening them.

The decision of Florida's Bethune-Cookman University to have Ms DeVos speak at their commencement originally led to protests on campus.

"If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you", he threatened.

DeVos was condemned for issuing a statement in February when she said that HBCUs were "real pioneers when it comes to school choice". "[HBCUs] are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality".

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"With the recent comments of President Trump suggesting federal funding for HBCUs is unconstitutional, this validates our view of a terrible decision by the university inviting DeVos, who still has not pledged to drastically increase funding for all historically black colleges and universities", the NAACP said.

Despite the boos, DeVos and Manigault have helped enact legislation that will protect Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). "I want to reaffirm this administration's commitment to and support for [historically black colleges and universities] and the students they serve". Several graduates refused to even look at DeVos, turning their backs to her as she came onstage.

"We should aspire to make all of America's institutions mirror that model - a singular focus on the unique needs of students", she said.

If Wednesday was a test for the head of the Department of Education among historically black colleges and universities, it proved DeVos has much work ahead of her.

Students were upset by the choice of DeVos, said Petra Merrick, a graduating senior who was editor of the college newspaper for the past two years. Before the address, activists lined a sidewalk.

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

Jackson, however, has argued that inviting DeVos is an important gesture for finding common ground.

"As we have said repeatedly, be careful of the people you let in your place", Jackson said, seeming to acknowledge the criticism.

Congratulations to the newest graduates of Bethune-Cookman. "I have respect for all those who attended, including those who demonstrated their disagreement with me".

Both DeVos and the Trump administration have endeavored to engage HBCUs in conversations about higher education, meeting with leaders of HBCUs and voicing support for their contributions.

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