Betsy DeVos got herself an education today.
Students at Bethune-Cookman University, where the secretary of education gave a commencement speech today, made it very clear when she was announced as their speaker that they didn’t want her.
One recent BCU graduate even went so far as to start an online petition to have the speaker changed that received almost 10,000 signatures.
So how did it go?
How do you think it went?
(It didn’t go too great.)
Deciding to soak the matches in gasoline, the Trump camp chose to send none other than Omarosa along with DeVos. Why? Who knows, maybe Rod Rosenstein sent Trump a questionably-dated letter saying it was a good idea.
Anyhow, when BCU president Edison Jackson introduced Omarosa, students, parents and distinguished guests broke out in boos. Jackson called for the boos to stop, saying, “You don’t know her. You don’t know her story.”
Yes we do, we saw all about her and her story on The Apprentice. And Say Yes to the Dress. If anything, we know way, way more about her than we'd like.
From there on out, the hall was an echo chamber of booing and chants of protest.
When DeVos was introduced, students booed. When she started speaking, they booed. Then they stood up, and turned their backs on her.
She tried to continue, talking ever louder, half-shouting into her microphone empty platitudes about democracy and higher education being about debate and differing viewpoints.
A one point, DeVos was being so drowned out that Jackson again stepped up to the podium, and putting on his granddad voice, told his students that he would stop the whole ceremony right this minute and have everyone's degrees mailed to them. Full frowny face, he said, “Choose which way you want to go.”
Guess which way they chose? Guess!
That of protest.
Things continued much the same through the rest of the speech. When DeVose mentioned that she planned to visit Dr. Bethune’s home and grave, the students responded back with an emphatic, “No!”
Hundreds of graduating seniors of a historically black university in Florida booed and turned their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she stood up to deliver a commencement speech on Wednesday. "Let's choose to hear each other out," DeVos said, straining to be heard above the crowd at Bethune-Cookman University's graduation in Daytona Beach. "We can choose to listen, be respectful and continue to learn from each other's experience." #betsydevos #florida #educationsecretary #bethunecookmanuniversity #daytonabeach #education #politics #commencement #graduation #boos #commencementspeech
Those against the graveside visit don’t really have much to worry about; Dr. Bethune’s probably rolled out of it already.
There was one moment of levity in the long, harsh slog: when DeVos told students with a straight face, “I am at the table fighting on your behalf.”
And what did those watching at home think of all this? Well, they felt a lot like those in attendance, it turns out:
If this sort of tone-deaf and unhelpful outreach is what Donald Trump’s “unwavering support” for HBCUs looks like, Dr. Bethune help us all.