A Kansas tech school did a last-minute scratch of plans for Ivanka Trump to give a virtual commencement speech, citing President Donald Trump's response to George Floyd protests.
Administrators at Wichita State University and WSU Tech changed course late Thursday — hours after they had announced the president's daughter would make remarks to WSU Tech graduates.
Administrators of both universities, which are affiliated, said Saturday's graduation would be "refocused" on students, with a nursing graduate as the only speaker.
Ivanka Trump visited WSU Tech's National Center for Aviation Training last fall.
But her pick as graduation speaker drew immediate criticism, led by Jennifer Ray, associate professor of photo media at Wichita State, who sent a letter asking school administrators to cancel the speech.
The issue escalated after the letter was circulated on social media, gathering 488 signatures from faculty, students and alumni before the speech was canceled, The Wichita Eagle reported.
While noting Wichita State does not have administrative control over WSU Tech, Ray said having the president’s daughter and senior adviser speak would taint both institutions.
Ray wrote, Trump has said he might use federal military troops to quell the U.S. demonstrations and shown "callous disregard" for minorities while refusing to criticize police tactics during demonstrations.
"We owe it to our students to stand up for the right thing when and where we can," Ray wrote. "To our students of color, and to me, inviting Ivanka Trump to speak right now sends the message that WSU Tech does not take diversity seriously."
In a separate statement, WSU Tech President Sheree Utash acknowledged "the timing of the announcement was insensitive" and apologized. During the ceremony, WSU Tech students would be able to hear prerecorded congratulatory messages from more than 30 speakers, including Ivanka Trump.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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