Conservatives are all but shut out of commencement ceremonies

Key newsmakers of the year (like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who defied pushes for COVID mandates and lockdowns), New York Times bestselling authors (like glass-ceiling-shattering campaign manager Kellyanne Conway) and popular television hosts (like Fox News’ Greg Gutfeld, host of one of cable news’ most-watched programs) — all were shut out from this year’s commencement ceremonies. Why? Because despite their massive success, they don’t fit the left’s narrative.

After enduring four years of attempted indoctrination from the nation’s liberal faculty members, most college students are ready to move on to the real world — celebrating their graduation and looking forward to making a positive impact.

Yet so many universities attempt to hijack graduation day with one last attempt to push a radical agenda on their students, injecting identity politics and victimhood culture into commencement ceremonies.

Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin was among the three conservatives who spoke at commencements for the United States’ top 100 colleges and universities.

Young America’s Foundation’s 30th annual Commencement Speakers Survey found that just three conservatives were invited to give commencement addresses at the top 100 schools as ranked by U.S. News and World Report: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s prime minister.

Meanwhile, 53 liberals imparted their “wisdom” to the graduating class of 2022. From advocating for “social justice” movements like Black Lives Matter to warning grads about the danger of guns, these speakers clearly used their platforms to push their own agendas.

The parade of liberal speakers included some obvious suspects, including President Joe Biden at the University of Delaware and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at Brown University. CNN host Van Jones spoke at Wake Forest University, and Samantha Power, Team Biden member and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke at Johns Hopkins.

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi spoke at Brown University’s commencement in May.
Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift advised the NYU class of 2022 to embrace “cringe.”

The sports and entertainment worlds were represented by liberals, too. Actor Ken Jeong was Tulane University’s speaker, and Abby Wambach, the U.S. soccer star who uses her platform to push for LGBTQ identity politics to infect every aspect of American life, was Loyola Marymount University’s. Taylor Swift spent her speech at New York University telling graduates to “embrace cringe” — whatever that means.

Immigration activist Erika Lee, Tufts University’s speaker, encouraged graduates to take to the streets against perceived “injustices.” “White supremacy, anti-Semitism, anti-Asian hate and racism and bigotry of all kinds impacts all of us, not just some of us,” she told the class. “Sometimes we must protest in the streets. We must march, and we must go to the front lines.”

How about that for a unifying, positive message for the class of 2022?

This liberal skew is inconsistent with our country’s ideological trends. After nearly two years of lockdowns, tyrannical mandates and indoctrination like critical race theory infecting our classrooms, parents and students alike have woken up to the left’s radical agenda. This time, the left pushed their luck too far — and those who may otherwise be apathetic or neutral in the realm of politics began to take a second look.

Without organizations like YAF, many college students would go all four years without hearing a single speaker from the right. It’s important to bring the leaders and thinkers of the conservative movement to the next generation of journalists, lawyers, teachers, doctors and business owners.

No matter if students agree with the conservative speakers: Critical-thinking skills and the ability to engage with ideas with which they disagree are fundamental and a cornerstone of higher education. Simply pretending those viewpoints don’t exist or hiding them from students by labeling them “racist” or “bigoted” does no one any good.

The left loves to pretend to champion “diversity, equity and inclusion” until it comes to diversity of thought and freedom of expression. It’s up to us to force an equal playing field and demand that other voices be heard.

Kara Zupkus is the spokeswoman for Young America’s Foundation.

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