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USC to not have valedictorian deliver 2024 commencement speech

LOS ANGELES (NBC, KYMA/KECY) - The University of Southern California (USC) has announced that it will not allow the 2024 valedictorian to deliver the commencement speech during graduation.

The university is citing security reasons after several organizations on and off campus raised concerns about Asna Tabassum's past social activity.

Several USC students are sharing their thoughts.

"People are really angry about because we've had very big people here before, like Obama and some kings of other countries, and we've been able to deal with the safety for that," said one student.

"I literally know nothing about it, so I mean safety does sound like it should be of utmost importance," said another student.

Past social media activity

Ten days ago, the university selected a valedictorian: A Bio-Med major from Chino Hills, Asna Tabassum, was quoted as being "grateful."

She talked about her extracurricular activities, including sending medical supplies to Ukraine and to earthquake-ravaged Turkey and Syria.

But come May 10, she will not be allowed to speak at graduation due to her past activity on social media. It is a decision celebrated by Trojans for Israel while the LA Chapter of Council on American Islamic Relations condemns it.

USC released a statement that concludes by saying:

"To be clear: This decision has nothing to do with freedom of speech. There is no free-speech entitlement to speak at a commencement. The issue here is how best to maintain campus security and safety, period.

"I think the valedictorian should be allowed to make a speech," said another student.

Dealing with breaking news

Tabassum released her own statement saying:

"As your class Valedictorian, I implore my USC classmates to think outside the box--to work towards a world where cries for equality and human dignity are not manipulated to be expressions of hatred. I challenge us to respond to ideological discomfort with dialogue and learning, not bigotry and censorship. And I urge us to see past our deepest fears and recognize the need to support justice for all people, including the Palestinian people."

"A lot of students have a lot to say," said Anjali Patel, editor of The Daily Trojan.

Patel was dealing with breaking news.

"I will say there's a wide variety of opinions from students and other people that have left comments on our posts on like what the university should have done or if they, what their decision was right in their opinion. We've just gotten a lot of different voices all over the board."

Anjali Patel, editor of The Daily Trojan
Article Topic Follows: California News

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