Heifer Bye, Betsy DeVos Greeted By Boos During Commencement Speech

Alvin Kelly
May 19, 2017

DeVos attended the graduation at Bethune University, a member of the Historically Black College & Universities. According to reports, when DeVos began her speech, many students turned their back on DeVos and boos and shouts erupted from the crowd.

"They" would be the graduating students at Bethune-Cookman University's commencement ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.

Students were upset by the choice of DeVos, said Petra Merrick, a graduating senior who was editor of the college newspaper for the past two years.

The B-CU petition also objects to DeVos's recent withdrawal of protections the Obama administration put in place for students who have mismanaged or are defaulting on their student loans.

DeVos herself has faced personal criticism for claiming HBCUs were "real pioneers" of "school choice," comments she later rescinded.

"I'm here to demonstrate, in the most tangible way I know how, that I and the entire administration are fully committed to your success and to the success of every student across this great country". "If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you", he warned.

In the week and a half since the historically black university announced DeVos would be delivering the address, protest petitions drew thousands of signatures and calls for the school president's resignation have cropped up - as NPR's Anya Kamenetz laid out here.

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Jeers from the audience persisted throughout her 20-minute speech, when she was introduced and while she accepted an honorary degree. "So why wouldn't we want to make friends?" "Please join me now in personally thanking and applauding those of you have served, serve or will serve as an educator", she said.

But the university said students are free to protest as long as it doesn't disrupt the graduation ceremony.

But he said "Bethune-Cookman University can't do it alone". Dozens of activists lined a sidewalk early Wednesday; their signs included "DeVos is not worthy".

"We are all about the business of making new friends", Jackson said at a pre-commencement news conference.

Nonetheless, the president of the university ignored the complaints and defended the commencement speaker selection by highlighting DeVos' philanthropy work and (supposed) dedication to education.

Perhaps foreseeing the resistance she'd face during her speech, DeVos told the crowd, "While we will undoubtedly disagree at times I hope we can do so respectfully".

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