USC valedictorian loses commencement speech due to antisemitic posts
University of Southern California (USC) sign is seen on its main campus in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Gerard Filitti, senior counsel at the Lawfare Project, praised the school’s decision as correct ‘morally and legally.’

JNS Staff Report
April 17, 2024

The #EndJewHatred movement released a statement announcing that Asna Tabassum — this year’s valedictorian at the University of Southern California — had lost her opportunity to address students and families on graduation day.

The group sent a letter to the school’s administrators on April 12, alerting them to the fact that Tabassum’s Instagram page linked to an antisemitic page accusing Zionists of racism and advocating for the destruction of Israel.

Andrew T. Guzman, USC’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, released a statement sent to the university community on Monday explaining the turn of events.

“After careful consideration, we have decided that our student valedictorian will not deliver a speech at commencement. While this is disappointing, tradition must give way to safety,” he stated.

“Commencement ceremonies should be a moment of pride for graduating students and their families, not an opportunity for a speaker to spread Jew-hatred,” Gerard Filitti,  senior counsel at the Lawfare Project speaking for #EndJewHatred, told JNS. “USC did the right thing, both morally and legally, to disallow Ms. Tabassum a platform to spread the same kind of vitriol linked on her social-media account.”

Filitti said the provost’s statement announcing the cancelation “needs to be commended for recognizing the very real safety concerns of Jewish college students at USC and across the country who are constantly exposed to venomous antisemitism, calls for genocide, disruption of classes and activities, and even physical violence, perpetrated by radical Jew-haters and Hamas apologists who cloak themselves as pro-Palestinian activists.”

Noting that the Los Angeles branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) criticized the decision, Filitti called it disappointing that some groups were “trying to distort reality and play victim when the simple, sad, truth is that it is Jewish students who have been repeatedly victimized by antisemitism and are unsafe on college campuses.”

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