HomeTop StoriesStudents protest against USC's decision to ban the farewell speech

Students protest against USC’s decision to ban the farewell speech

Students gathered alongside USC’s Tommy Trojan on Thursday to protest the university’s decision to ban this year’s valedictorian from delivering her speech.

“One of the most talented girls I have ever met,” said student Kaiser Kuresi. “This university is trying to silence her.”

Earlier this week, USC decided to ban biomedical engineering major Asna Tabassum, who is Muslim, from speaking due to security concerns. In a letter to university administrators, critics accused her of posting links and views on social media that promoted “anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric.”

“My main point of contention is the fact that the university would select someone who is so outspoken at this time on such a contentious, inflammatory and polarizing issue,” said senior Mary Rayant.

Rayant, who is Jewish, said he wants USC to apologize for the selection. He also wrote Tabassum a letter after the announcement, hoping to have a conversation.

“To try to give her some perspective, I think she may be lacking because it’s such a highly polarized and politicized issue,” he said.

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Senior Sabrina Jahan, who is also Jewish, said she has received threats, harassment and backlash following USC’s decision.

“We would not want to give this platform and the highest honor for our university to someone who not only defies the university’s values ​​and fails to exemplify those values, but also actively promotes this type of hate speech,” she said.

Jahan added that she feels less safe at USC.

“Personally, I don’t feel as safe going to school every day as I used to,” she said.

More than 50 student organizations signed a letter in support of Tabassum, who said earlier this week that USC was giving in to hate.

“I am as committed to the lives of Jews as I am to Muslims or Christians or any other form of identity,” she said.

A Change.org petition demanding Tabassum be allowed to speak at commencement has collected nearly 4,000 signatures.

“University leadership made this decision in close consultation with our team at the Department of Public Safety and Threats,” USC said in a statement. “The decision had nothing to do with the valedictor’s background or position, but was instead based on a careful and holistic assessment of the situation from a safety and security standpoint.

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There were no reports of arrests or disturbances as a result of the march.

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