Students at a prominent Virginia college demanded that Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) not be allowed to speak on campus after the college announced the governor as its May graduation speaker.
More than 6,000 students signed a petition against Youngkin’s appearance.
The petition said that the governor “passed anti-trans legislation, promoted the abolishment of racial equity curricula and restricted the availability of literature in public schools is an intentional target towards historically marginalized communities.”
The petition’s author, a senior at the college, wrote that “I and my peers do not want the memories of our graduation day to be tainted by an individual who has harmed and continues to harm the people he serves.”
Youngkin’s address is also opposed by the college’s student government. It wrote in a press release that having the governor speak is a “betrayal toward every minority group on campus.”
George Mason University announced Youngkin as its commencement speaker last week. The announcement cited Youngkin’s support for more than $33 million in new financial aid for students.
College President Gregory Washington praised Youngkin’s “drive for lifelong learning and his entrepreneurial mindset is what we cultivate in all of our graduates.”
Students at the school protested against the governor’s planned speech. In-state tuition at the college is approximately $10,000 per year and out-of-state tuition costs more than $30,000 annually.
BREAKING: We’re on campus today mobilizing against Glenn Youngkin pic.twitter.com/5hWkswW4uw
— Democrats at Mason (@GMUdems) March 28, 2023
A conservative nonprofit, The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), called on the college to hold firm against the protests.
Youngkin was elected in 2021, defeating former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA). Youngkin ran on a platform that highlighted parents’ involvement in their children’s education.
The organization told Fox News that the efforts to cancel the Youngkin speech “are calls for censorship antithetical to students’ intellectual development and GMU’s mission.”
The group exhorted George Mason students to instead “resist censorship and instead enter both their commencement ceremony and life after graduation with a willingness to engage ideas with which they may disagree.”
Since his election, Youngkin has become one of the most popular governors in the nation. A recent poll placed him at a 57% approval rating.