The University of Southern California called off an appearance from director Jon. M Chu and other honorees at commencement in the wake of the university’s decision to cancel valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s speech over security concerns, the university announced in a memo Friday.

The university wrote that “given the highly publicized circumstances surrounding our main-stage commencement program,” it has made the decision to “release our outside speakers and honorees from attending this year’s ceremony.”

“We’ve been talking to this exceptional group and hope to confer these honorary degrees at a future commencement or other academic ceremonies,” USC wrote.

In March, USC announced that Chu, the filmmaker behind “Crazy Rich Asians” and an alumnus of the school, would deliver its May 10 commencement speech at its main-stage ceremony, which draws more than 65,000 attendees.

The move caps a week of debate over USC’s cancellation of Tabassum’s speech.

On Monday, USC Provost Andrew T. Guzman cited unnamed threats that have poured in shortly after the university publicized Tabassum’s name. Guzman said attacks against the student for her pro-Palestinian views have reached an “alarming tenor” and “escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security and disruption at commencement” in May.

Speaking to the Los Angleles Times on Tuesday, Tabassum defended herself and said she is not antisemitic. She said she supports the pro-Palestinian cause that has grown at college campuses since the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel, which killed 1,200 people and took about 240 hostage before Israel’s retaliatory war in the Gaza Strip. Gaza health authorities say the war has killed nearly 34,000 Palestinians. According to the United Nations, 2 million Gazans are in near-famine conditions.

“The university has betrayed me and caved in to a campaign of hatred,” Tabassum said of online attacks demanding that the university rescind its invitation for her to speak at the graduation.

She said that the university did not share any details with her about its security concerns and that it did not offer her an alternative method of participating in the commencement, such as a video appearance.


©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.