When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was asked to give the commencement address to the predominantly black Bethune-Cookman University graduating class she must have known in advance that her words at the Daytona Beach school would fall on deaf ears.
The treatment she received from the students in response to her appearance and speech was disrespectful in the extreme.
The booing and hissing and shouting down by these graduates of a school of higher learning while DeVos soldiered on and finished her address shows how little these graduates have learned in their years of education.
Respect is something they should have learned in kindergarten, or before, but they obviously did not.
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The school’s president, Edison O. Jackson had admonished the student body in advance that, “It does not benefit our students to suppress voices that we disagree with or to limit students to only those perspectives that are broadly sanctioned by a specific community.”
To paraphrase his words: We must listen to other voices, otherwise, how will they listen to ours?
Jackson interrupted DeVos’ speech to warn the graduating class that if their disrespectful actions didn’t stop then, “Their degrees would be mailed to them.” But the disrespectful behavior, including shouting down and turning their backs, continued.
Jackson showed real courage in inviting DeVos to speak. He should have held these graduates’ diplomas pending apologies for their actions.
If all university presidents and deans would show the guts they should, they would put a stop to these actions and those that are more violent such as the incident in Berkeley, where dueling pro- and anti-Trump members clashed. The world would be a better place.
We need to stop the rampant hatred we see today all over a divided America.
Robert E. Pickard,