HomeCampusUSC cancels speech by Muslim Valedictorian citing safety

USC cancels speech by Muslim Valedictorian citing safety

A South Asian Muslim American says she feels her voice has been silenced after the University of Southern California cancelled her Valedictorian speech over safety concerns.

NBC Los Angeles reports the action by the university announced via email to the student body ignited controversy over a subject that has divided campuses across the country.

Asna Tabassum will graduate with a major in biomedical engineering and a minor in resistance to genocide.

Trojans for Israel and other campus organizations cited what they see as antisemitic comments made by Tabassum on social media, according to LAIST, and demanded that she be removed as speaker.

“After careful consideration, we have decided that our student valedictorian will not deliver a speech at commencement,” Provost Andrew Guzman said in his announcement. “While this is disappointing, tradition must give way to safety.”

In a statement released through the Council of American-Islamic Relations, Tabassum said “I am both shocked by this decision and profoundly disappointed that the University is succumbing to a campaign of hate meant to silence my voice. I am not surprised by those who attempt to propagate hatred. I am surprised that my own university – my home for four years – has abandoned me.”

USC Annenburg Media says Tabassum feels the university has the resources to ensure everyone’s safety if it chooses. It also cited a link on her biography on Instagram entitled Palestine- learn about what’s happening in Palestine and how to help.

CAIR called USC’s decision “cowardly.”

The graduation at USC is scheduled to be held May 10 and will feature producer/director  Jon M. Chu of Crazy Rich Asians and Now You See Me 2 fame.

“The dishonest and defamatory attacks on Asna are nothing more than thinly-veiled manifestations of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush. “We call on USC to immediately reverse course, restore her speech and treat all students fairly and justly, starting with Asna. We look forward to USC’S swift response.”

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  1. Islamophobia is not phobia, but real and everywhere all over the world. And based on this valedictorian’s earlier views, comments and writings, the University has made the right decision. Recently, the imprisoned parents of the killer ignored their son’s comments and views resulting in a huge tragedy. We cannot afford to allow similar situations, and it would be better to be safe than sorry.

  2. I disagree with the decision. I feel that canceling Ansa’s valedictorian speech due to “safety” concerns is a cover for censorship and her views on social media by anonymous group saying she’s antisemite. So does Ansa’s posts is antisemite or does she speaks out on the plight in Gaza that is dire by the day? Her outspokeness about Gaza(Palestine) caused USC to cancelled her speech? That I have an issue with. You can’t silent someone’s views without cause and effect. Let’s Ansa speak!


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