Senior Advisor Ivanka Trump released the speech she had prepared to give at WSU Tech’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, before she was dropped as a virtual speaker a day before amid backlash over the her father, President Trump response to nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd.
“Earlier today, WSU Tech announced that Ivanka Trump, advisor to President Donald Trump, is a planned speaker at the college’s virtual commencement this weekend,” Wichita State president Jay Golden and WSU Tech president Sheree Utash said in a joint statement.
“The WSU Tech commencement plans have been refocused more centrally on students – student voices in particular. Rebecca Zinabu, WSU Tech practical nursing graduate, will now be the only commencement speaker during the ceremony.”
Pressure to drop Ivanka as speaker came after Jennifer Ray, associate professor of photo media sent an open letter to the university, in a public outcry saying she was “horrified and disgusted” that the senior advisor was the commencement speaker.
“Ivanka Trump, obviously, represents her father’s administration as one of his closest advisors,” Ray wrote in the circulated letter which has since been removed, according to The Wichita Eagle. “To many Americans, that administration has come to signify the worst of our country, particularly in its recent actions toward those peacefully protesting against racist police brutality. This is not about politics and policy; some of the sharpest critiques of President Trump’s actions come from prominent members of his own party, from figures like former Defense Secretary James Mattis and President George W. Bush.”
On Friday, Ivanka posted the nearly 10-minute prerecorded address on Twitter and spoke out about “cancel culture.”
“Our nation’s campuses should be bastions of free speech. Cancel culture and viewpoint discrimination are antithetical to academia. Listening to one another is important now more than ever!” Ivanka tweeted with the video.
A White House official said Ivanka recorded the message more than two weeks ago, prior to the May 25 death of Floyd and the beginning of demonstrations across the country.
“You commence at a moment unlike any other. America and the world are battling a terrible pandemic. Our entire society is engaged in a national endeavor to defeat the virus, protect our fellow citizens, and open up America again to rebuild our economy and take care of the safety and well-being of our people,” Ivanka said, noting how colleges and university nationwide are holding ceremony way different than before in order to observe the social distancing measures put in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Right now I know the economic uncertainty is real, and it’s hard on many of you and your families. Your own blueprint for your future is likely changing due to the pandemic, but I am confident that even if your path is different form the one you imagined, ultimately it can be better than we could ever have planned,” Ivanka added.
Ivanka visited WSU Tech late October with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The visit to the National Center for Aviation Training was one of the four Kansas companies signed on to the White House’s Pledge to American Workers initiative. The initiative, spearheaded by Ivanka, looks for employers to provide job training and career opportunities for new or current employees. The Wichita aviation companies promised a total of 36,000 new job opportunities.