(CBS) – Ivanka Trump called out “cancel culture” Friday night after plans for her to give a virtual commencement speech were canceled. Wichita State University dropped the first daughter from its graduation ceremony amid criticism of President Trump’s response to police brutality protests.
In a joint statement, Wichita State President Dr. Jay Golden and WSU Tech President Dr. Sheree Utash announced the decision to remove Ivanka Trump from Saturday’s virtual graduation ceremony. They made the announcement on Thursday night, just hours after they said she would be speaking to graduates.
They said they would “refocus” the ceremony on students, with Rebecca Zinabu, a nursing graduate, as the sole speaker.
“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,” Utash said. “I’m sorry that was never the intent, and I want you to know I have heard you and we are responding.”
On Friday night, Ivanka tweeted: “Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech.”
“Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia. Listening to one another is important now more than ever!”
After WSU Tech announced the first daughter would be speaking, 488 students, faculty and alumni had signed an open letter to administrators calling for her removal from the ceremony. Associated Professor Jennifer Ray, who authored the letter, wrote that she was “horrified and disgusted” by the school’s choice in speaker.
Senator Tom Cotton, whose “Send In The Troops” op-ed in The New York Times drew widespread criticism this week, defended the White House adviser after her speech was canceled. He called the decision “absurd” and said “the woke mob struck.”
“If the snowflakes so offended by the idea of hearing from a White House advisor couldn’t contain their emotions, they should have skipped the speech,” he tweeted Friday evening. “Instead, they ruined it for everyone.”
Ivanka on Friday released a recording of the speech on Twitter.
“You commence at a moment unlike any other. America and the world are battling a terrible pandemic. Our entire society is engaged in a national endeavor to defeat the virus, protect our fellow citizens and open up America again to rebuild our economy and take care of the safety and well-being of our people,” she said in the speech. “You are a wartime graduate,”
“Right now, I know the economic uncertainty is real and it’s hard on many of you and your families,” she said. “Your own blueprint for your future is likely changing due to the pandemic, but I am confident that even if your path is different from the one you imagined, ultimately it can be better than we could ever have planned.”