A technical college in Kansas canceled a virtual commencement speech by Ivanka Trump, citing the “social justice issues brought forth by George Floyd’s death.”
The WSU Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology, known as WSU Tech, is affiliated with Wichita State University. More than 400 faculty, students and alumni had signed an open letter criticizing Wichita Tech's invitation to Trump as a representative of her father's administration. “To many Americans, that administration has come to signify the worst of our country, particularly in its recent actions toward those peacefully protesting against racist police brutality," the letter stated, according to The Wichita Eagle.
In response to the cancellation, Trump criticized “cancel culture” and “viewpoint discrimination” and posted on Twitter the nine-and-a-half minute message she’d recorded for WSU Tech graduates.
Sheree Utash, the president of WSU Tech, said the college extended the invitation to Trump to speak at the June 6 virtual commencement in February.
"In light of the social justice issues brought forth by George Floyd’s death, I understand and take responsibility that the timing of the announcement was insensitive. For this, I’m sorry that was never the intent, and I want you to know I have heard you and we are responding."
“Our focus with commencement has always been about our graduates and celebrating their accomplishments," Utash said. Utash said the only commencement speaker would be a graduate of the college's practical nursing program, but that graduates would "be invited to separately view congratulatory messages from over 30 voices, including Ms. Trump and community members."
In posting the video message on Twitter, Trump said U.S. campuses “should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia.” Of the WSU Tech graduates she wrote: “I know that all of these talented graduates will dream big and aspire to make the world a better place!”