WATCH: Graduating Students Boo, Turn Backs on Betsy DeVos Commencement Address


University President Threatened to End Ceremony and Mail Diplomas

Graduating seniors at a historically Black university angered with their school's choice of a commencement speaker greeted Education Secretary Betsy DeVos with boos and turned backs Wednesday. Jeers of "Go home!" and other spontaneous protests were so loud Bethune-Cookman University president Edison Jackson interrupted DeVos' remarks to warn graduates.

"If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you," he threatened. "Choose which way you want to go."

DeVos told the students, "While we will undoubtedly disagree at times I hope we can do so respectfully. Let's choose to hear one another out." She told graduates she wanted to "reaffirm this administration's commitment to and support for" HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) "and the students they serve."

CNN reports today's "commencement program said she was slated to speak an hour or more, but she wrapped up her remarks in about 20 minutes."

Apparently a Buzzfeed News reporter was on scene:

DeVos has been met at several events with anger and protests. As a result taxpayers are funding extra security for DeVos, paying the U.S. Marshals Service nearly $1 million per month.

Students at the Florida school, upon learning DeVos had been chosen, had circulated petitions opposing her. At least one at has over 8400 signatories. 

"In February, DeVos made an unsettling statement inferring that Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), of which Bethune-Cookman is one, are the 'real pioneers when it comes to school choice,'" the petion reads. 

"Betsy DeVos doesn't understand that HBCUs were created in response to the exclusion of African Americans from mainstream institutions. Secretary DeVos has no understanding of the importance, contributions, and significance of HBCUs," it continues. "Last month, DeVos weakened consumer protection for student loan borrowers," the petition adds.

Here's the entire speech:

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