Ivanka Trump was slated to make the headline speech at the virtual graduation ceremony for the Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology, but after facing backlash, the school announced that it was canceling her speech.
As People reports, the 38-year-old White House adviser had prerecorded a speech for the graduating class weeks ago. It was scheduled to headline the commencement ceremonies on Saturday. But WSU Tech president Dr. Sheree Utash tweeted a message last night saying that the first daughter wouldn’t be headlining the event after all.
“In light of the social justice issues brought forth by George Floyd’s death, I understand and take responsibility that the timing of the announcement was insensitive,” Utash’s statement read. “For this, I’m sorry. That was never the intent, and I want you to know I have heard you and we are responding.”
Donald Trump and his administration have faced intense backlash for what some people say is an inadequate response to the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Video of Floyd’s arrest shows him being held on the ground by three officers. One, former officer Derek Chauvin, was shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he repeatedly said that he couldn’t breathe. Eventually, he became unresponsive and was later declared deceased at a local hospital.
The death touched off protests and demonstrations against police brutality and racism across the United States. While Minneapolis leaders have responded by charging Chauvin and his fellow officers with second-degree murder or aiding and abetting second-degree murder, many argue that Trump isn’t doing enough to address the unrest gripping the nation.
Others say that the president has added fuel to the flames and has encouraged violence by calling the protesters “thugs” and suggesting that they are paid actors. He has also encouraged the use of force against demonstrators.
Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis added his voice to the opposition against the president, shocking many.
Ivanka Trump was reportedly asked to speak at the school well before the death of Floyd, and her message focused largely on the coronavirus crisis. Apparently, students weren’t supportive of having her offer words to the class, given the actions of her father.
“I respect and understand the sharply divided reaction to today’s announcement,” Utash wrote. “The college stands with those who fight injustice and advocate for social equity, and we’re profoundly proud of the diversity and social change being brought forth by our students, alumni, faculty, and staff.”
The White House hasn’t responded to the news.