HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It has happened throughout the U.S. Now, students in Houston have signed a petition to keep a conservative political leader from speaking at their commencement ceremony -- Senator John Cornyn will no longer speak at the Texas Southern University graduation.
Video shows graduates jeering and turning their backs to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos at the Bethune Cookman University graduation on Thursday but at Texas Southern University, that won’t happen. Their voices are being heard before the ceremony starts.
"We want more for our generation," says TSU student Chris Wilson. "I’m glad we’re sticking together.”
More than 850 TSU students signed a petition to keep U.S. Senator John Cornyn from delivering the commencement address. The students say they don’t want Cornyn at graduation because they say he has supported “discriminatory policies and politicians” including DeVos and they cite the senator’s lack of support for the children’s health insurance program and for sanctuary cities.
Many TSU students say they are proud to see there is power in numbers.
"I just wanted to support the seniors and sign the petition,” says TSU student Patrick Davis.
"This is their graduation and I feel like they should be able to voice their opinions to have someone speak to them, encourage them as they move on to the next chapter in their lives," explains TSU junior student Elizabeth Powell. "So I think it’s amazing.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Congressman Al Green will speak at the TSU graduation ceremony on Saturday, May 13.
Texas Southern University released the following statement on Friday:
Texas Southern University's number-one priority is student success and completion. We are proud to announce that 1,138 students have completed their academic journey and are positioned to compete on a national level. Commencement exercises are special moments for our students, their families and the entire University. Every consideration is made to ensure that our student's graduation day is a celebratory occasion and one they will remember positively for years to come. We asked Senator Cornyn to instead visit with our students again at a future date in order to keep the focus on graduates and their families. We, along with Senator Cornyn, agree that the primary focus of commencement should be a celebration of academic achievement.
Sen. Cornyn's deputy press secretary released the following statement on Friday:
Senator Cornyn was honored to be invited to address TSU's graduates, but he respects the Administration's decision and looks forward to continuing to engage with the University in the future.