Maria Elena Salinas, an anchor for Spanish language network Univision, gave the commencement address and received an honorary doctorate from California State University in Fullerton this past Sunday.
At one point, Ms. Salinas began addressing the graduates in Spanish. She had been encouraged to do so by the all-knowing university leadership in an effort to pander to the university’s 40% Latino student body. But the graduates, according to the OC Weekly, were in no mood for a bi-lingual lesson on their special day.
The Univision broadcaster began specifically congratulating Latino journalism graduates for what seemed like a large chunk of her speech. She then began speaking in Spanish … This left non-journalism grads and non-Latinos/non-Spanish speakers feeling excluded. Parents in the audience and even students in the ceremony began demanding Salinas switch to a more inclusive tone by shouting phrases such as, “What about us?!”
That’s right. In an attempt at inclusion, Salinas excluded the majority of graduates who don’t speak Spanish. And, of course, the students of Latino descent wouldn’t have been excluded by hearing the entire speech in English in the first place. After all, they just graduated from an English-language college.
But then, it got worse for Salinas. She decided to encourage the journalism graduates to use their new degrees to enter the work force and attack Donald Trump:
Tensions worsened as Salinas began offering advice to journalism students to use the tools of media to rebut political figures such as Donald Trump. That’s when folks began yelling things to Salinas such as, “Get off the stage!” and “Trash!”
The Washington Post reviewed a video of the speech and describes the portion when things got rough for Ms. Salinas:
Salinas said: “… they blame us so much for so many things, that now they’re even blaming us, the media, for creating Donald Trump. Imagine that.” Yells can be heard from the crowd. “Isn’t that terrible? But we didn’t, right? Who did it?” she asked rhetorically. “I don’t know. Who did it? But they’re to blame.”
More yelling can be heard.
“If you allow me to say a few words in Spanish,” she said, and someone called out, “No!”
When she spoke in Spanish, wishing students well on their “future in this country,” her words were followed by cheers and applause. She expressed pride in their accomplishment, then switched back to English and said it’s wonderful to speak two languages, to more cheering.
Then she asked if they would allow her to do something important. Someone yelled, “No!” and another voice yelled, “Get off the stage!”
Here’s the video:
The seemingly clueless Salinas went on to tell the Post that she suspected if she had given the speech two years ago, maybe it wouldn’t have been so raucous. She continued to blame Trump for the incident at the commencement as well as continued criticism on Twitter.
“It’s really sad that people can turn such a special moment into a racial war,” she told the Post. “Because it seems like that is what has happened. I don’t think I insulted anyone by saying a few words in Spanish to the parents. The whole speech was directed to everyone. … I think the message is, we have to cool down the intolerance right now, we really do. This is ugly, what’s happening in the country.”
Follow the logic, that only a journalist can truly understand, apparently.
Salinas chooses to use a commencement speech to divide her audience along cultural and political lines. She insults the English speaking audience by purposely delivering comments in a language that they could not understand. She encourages them to chuck out any journalistic ethics they may have learned at college by encouraging the new graduates to “use the tools of media to rebut political figures such as Donald Trump.”
And when the graduates use their voices and their 1st amendment rights to communicate their opposing opinion to her rude and radical message, she blames Donald Trump.
Happy graduation day, Cal State Titans.