New: USC Commencement Ceremony Drama Continues

AP Photo/Richard Vogel

The 2024 University of Southern California (USC) commencement ceremony received a major change on Friday. 

In an unprecedented move, USC removed valedictorian Asna Tabassum from her speaking slot in the ceremony. She was chosen from a field of 100 applicants but her selection soon came under scrutiny for anti-Israel and antisemitic posts on social media. So, for the first time, USC removed a controversial speaker from its graduation ceremony.  


We can argue over whether or not she should be heard at the ceremony, expected to draw over 60,000 people, but Tabassum admitted she wanted to use her speech to inspire others but didn't elaborate. Would her speech incite violence? The university gave public safety as the reason she was canceled. She called it discrimination. In light of what is happening on college campuses across the country, it looks like USC was using an abundance of caution in planning a safe event. 

The controversial move has been expanded. A statement announced that all outside speakers have been canceled.

"Given the highly publicized circumstances surrounding our main-stage commencement program, university leadership has decided it is best to release our outside speakers and honorees from attending this year’s ceremony," a statement posted on the university's commencement website read. 

"We’ve been talking to this exceptional group and hope to confer these honorary degrees at a future commencement or other academic ceremonies," the unsigned statement continued. 

The statement went on to read that "38 satellite ceremonies, five celebrations, and 65 receptions" alongside the main stage ceremony would include "other internal and external speakers, and performers."

So, because Tabassum is not speaking, others are being excluded from the ceremony in some kind of misguided attempt to appease everyone. Appeasement never works out well and this is an example of that. Tabassum isn't an outside speaker, she is a graduating student. 


What a mess.

USC said it has received death threats, phone calls, and emails over the decision on Tabassum. 

Tabassum appeared on CNN after her speech was canceled, saying she was not sorry about promoting "unequivocal and unconditional right to life for all people, including Palestinians," which she claimed was the point of her anti-Israel social media posts that resulted in the school canceling her speech.

"It’s unfortunate that, you know, human rights is controversial," Tabassum said. She also claimed that her teachers and peers at the university were the ones that helped to shape her views.  

An antisemitism watchdog group, "Stop Antisemitism", claims USC is making Tabassum into a victim. "What’s turned into denying the Jewish right to self-determination has now been masked by false calls of Islamophobia."

The results of years of liberals taking over higher education in America are surfacing in campus unrest. Many of today's college students are antisemitic and are not afraid to act as such in public. They have been indoctrinated from an early age to see the world as progressives see it. The number of demonstrators showing up in support of the elimination of Israel and Jews is alarming. Imagine being a Jewish student in college right now. Who is protecting them and their human rights? 

Those being removed as part of the ceremony include director Jon M. Chu. 


Entertainment industry figures scheduled to appear included director Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) and producer Miky Lee of Korea’s the CJ Group, which gave the world the Oscar-winning film Parasite.

USC said it will provide additional updates next week. The commencement is scheduled for May 10. Other ceremonies are scheduled for May 8-11. 

Color me skeptical but I doubt that canceling outside speakers will prevent protests from distracting or disrupting the commencement activities, including the main ceremony.

** I corrected the first sentence of this post. I inaccurately identified the college as the University of California. 

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