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Governor Youngkin reacts after George Mason students protest his commencement speech

Posted at 10:43 PM, May 18, 2023

FAIRFAX, Va. — A day of celebration mixed with some controversy at George Mason Univerity's 2023 commencement on Thursday.

A group of students chose to protest the presence of Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia) at the ceremony.

George Mason University officials said every year they invite state leaders to give the commencement speech. This year, some students created a petition to remove Governor Youngkin when the school announced he would speak.

While Youngkin offered words of encouragement and celebrated the students' accomplishments, protesting students said they were concerned with the governor's stances on how race and history were taught in schools and his policies affecting transgender students.

Some protesting students turned their backs on the governor while others held signs or simply walked out.

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Some George Mason University students protested Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin's presence to deliver the commencement speech Thursday in Fairfax, Va.

"His political views don't align with the betterment of the universities diversity," one George Mason student said.

"My big thing is for Mason students at large to feel safe heard and protected and he does not ensure that," said another student.

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Some George Mason University students protested Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin's presence to deliver the commencement speech Thursday in Fairfax, Va.

While some students expressed opposition, others emphasized that the protests do not represent the entire class.

"Most of our university, as I expected, was there and sat and listened to the governor," one member of the George Mason University College Republicans said. "We have a lot of people who scream and they shout and that gets the most attention."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Governor Youngkin pledged to continue supporting free speech and acknowledging the achievements of GMU graduates.

"I'm sorry a few chose to not listen to that message," the governor said when asked about the protest. "It's okay we have so much going on in the Commonwealth that's so positive and the future for these students is extraordinarily bright."

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