Associate Professor Jennifer Ray's open letter which led to the campaign against Ivanka Trump said: "To many Americans, the [Trump] administration has to come to signify the worst of our country, particularly in its recent actions towards those peacefully protesting against racist police brutality."
Wichita State University and WSU Tech canceled Ivanka Trump’s commencement speech without explanation Thursday in a late-night news release following a public outcry from faculty, students and alumni.
The joint university statement, which posted online late Thursday night, said the school’s plans have “refocused more centrally on students” and that Trump will be replaced by nursing graduate Rebecca Zinabu.
“Earlier today, WSU Tech announced that Ivanka Trump, advisor to President Donald Trump, is a planned speaker at the college’s virtual commencement this weekend,” said the statement by Wichita State president Jay Golden and WSU Tech president Sheree Utash.
“The WSU Tech commencement plans have been refocused more centrally on students – student voices in particular. Rebecca Zinabu, WSU Tech practical nursing graduate, will now be the only commencement speaker during the ceremony.”
Pressure was on the Wichita State administration after Jennifer Ray, associate professor of photo media, authored a scathing open letter asking the university to cancel Trump. It circulated on social media quickly and had 487 signatures from concerned faculty, students and alumni by 11 p.m.
In the letter, Ray wrote that she was “horrified and disgusted” that Trump had been invited to speak at the ceremony and that doing so sent the wrong message about the public university’s commitment to diversity.