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Pro-Palestine US student banned from giving graduation speech

A valedictorian who was banned by her university from giving her graduation speech due to being anti-genocide in Gaza, receives a standing ovation at the University of Southern California graduation ceremony.

May 13, 2024 at 5:07 pm

Asna Tabassum, this year’s valedictorian at the University of Southern California (USC), received a standing ovation at the University’s awards ceremony on Friday, despite earlier opposition to her speech by pro-Israel groups.

At the USC student awards ceremony, the moderator announced Tabassum will graduate with a BS in biomedical engineering, molecular and cellular engineering, and “a minor in resistance to genocide”.

Tabassum garnered widespread support from peers.

Earlier, the University had cancelled a planned graduation speech by Tabassum following objections from pro-Israeli groups about her social media posts supporting Palestinians.

The school cited safety concerns with Provost, Andrew Guzman, saying in a statement that “over the past several days, discussion relating to the selection of our valedictorian has taken on an alarming tenor.”

The decision by USC prompted an immediate reaction from Tabassum, who is a South Asian-American Muslim.

“Although this should have been a time of celebration for my family, friends, professors and classmates, anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian voices have subjected me to a campaign of racist hatred because of my uncompromising belief in human rights for all,” Tabassum had said.

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