Home Education Asna Tabassum Receives Overwhelming Support at Graduation Following USC Speech Cancellation

Asna Tabassum Receives Overwhelming Support at Graduation Following USC Speech Cancellation

by Terra
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Asna Tabassum, USC’s Class of 2024 valedictorian, found herself at the center of controversy as her commencement speech was barred from the university’s graduation ceremony. In a bold move, Tabassum released a largely redacted version of the speech she would have delivered, drawing attention to her silencing.

The document, made public by Annenberg Media and the Daily Trojan, USC’s student-run newspaper, shed light on the circumstances surrounding Tabassum’s exclusion from speaking at the ceremony. Despite assertions by the university’s media center that the speech remained unaltered, its significant redactions left much to speculation.

The commencement ceremony, initially scheduled for Friday morning, was abruptly canceled amid escalating tensions. The decision stemmed from concerns over Tabassum’s safety following accusations of antisemitism by pro-Israel groups. These groups pointed to Tabassum’s social media activity, particularly her sharing of content advocating for the abolishment of the state of Israel.

Tabassum, a Muslim graduating with a degree in biomedical engineering and a minor in “resistance to genocide,” found herself thrust into a larger narrative surrounding political sensitivities and free speech on campus.

The fallout from Tabassum’s exclusion reverberated across USC’s campus, with pro-Palestinian demonstrators staging protests against both her silencing and Israel’s military actions in Gaza. These demonstrations, which included setting up encampments and violating school policies, led to clashes with campus security and law enforcement, resulting in numerous arrests.

In response to the escalating tensions, USC opted to replace its main graduation ceremony with smaller, private events, including one at the LA Memorial Coliseum. However, the controversy surrounding Tabassum’s silencing persisted, leading to further scrutiny of the university’s handling of the situation.

The USC Academic Senate, representing the school’s faculty, took action by voting to censure university President Carol Folt and Provost Andrew Guzman. The move reflected widespread dissatisfaction with the handling of the events leading up to the cancellation of commencement.


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