USC cancels graduation keynote by filmmaker amid controversy over decision to drop student’s speech

LOS ANGELES — The University of Southern California further shook up its commencement plans Friday, announcing the cancelation of a keynote speech by filmmaker Jon M. Chu just days after making the controversial choice to disallow the student valedictorian from speaking.
The private university in Los Angeles on Monday said it was canceling valedictorian Asna Tabassum‘s speech at the May 10 ceremony because of safety concerns. Tabassum, who is Muslim, has expressed support for Palestinians in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, and university officials said the response to her selection as valedictorian had “taken on an alarming tenor.” They did not cite any specific threats.

The university’s decision was met with praise from pro-Israel organizations but condemnation from free speech groups and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Students and facul …

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