May 13, 2024 - News

More than 100 VCU graduates walked out of graduation ceremony

A few dozen graduates walk out in their robes

Over 100 graduating VCU students walked out of their graduation ceremony Saturday in protest of Gov. Youngkin as the commencement speaker. Photo: Fadel Allassan/Axios

More than 100 graduating VCU students walked out of their ceremony Saturday in protest of Gov. Glenn Youngkin as the commencement speaker.

State of play: Graduates who walked out did so in opposition to Youngkin's DEI stance, plus the governor's support for universities breaking up on-campus pro-Palestinian encampments, per the Times-Dispatch.

  • Those pro-Palestinian campus protests included one two weeks ago at VCU that ended with 13 arrests after law enforcement intervened with pepper spray and riot shields.
  • Graduates told RTD on Saturday they were also protesting a Youngkin request to review the syllabi for a potential racial literacy course requirement at VCU, which the school's board voted Friday to reject.
  • His administration's K-12 transgender policies, Republican-led efforts to remove some books from K-12 schools and his opposition to critical race theory were other issues the grads were protesting.

Zoom in: Around 1,200 graduates were at the university-wide ceremony Saturday, per RTD.

  • Roughly 50 of the more than 100 students who walked out of the ceremony at the Richmond Convention Center joined a Pro-Palestinian march to nearby Abner Clay Park.

Zoom out: VCU's graduation walkout out was one of several that took place across the nation on Saturday, per the New York Times.

  • Students graduating from University of Wisconsin turned their backs during a speech by the university chancellor, and at University of California, Berkeley, hundreds of graduates chanted throughout the ceremony.
  • Elsewhere, graduations took place without incident, including at Virginia Tech.
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