Valdosta State students uneasy, unhappy with Gov. Kemp delivering commencement speech

Valdosta State students uneasy, unhappy with Gov. Kemp delivering commencement speech
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp

VALDOSTA, GA (WCTV) - Next weekend’s commencement ceremonies at Valdosta State are bringing some controversy with them. Gov. Brian Kemp will be speaking and that isn’t sitting well with some students.

VSU administration has told students they planned to invite the governor to speak at commencement, regardless of who won November's election.

Last month, the school announced Kemp would deliver the commencement address, and it's been stirring up a lot of controversy on campus.

Seniors said they feel left out of such a big decision.

VSU's Student Government Association held a meeting earlier this week to talk with school administration over some of their concerns having Kemp speak at commencement.

Organizers said there were students who left that meeting in tears, saying this is meant to be a time of celebration for seniors and they feel as though their voices aren’t being heard.

The upset students said they don’t believe Kemp upholds their views and standards or meets the university’s “Blazer Creed,” of integrity and morals that is taught to students.

They say, regardless of who won the election, commencement is not the time for uncomfortable or challenging conversations.

“Graduation is supposed to be a time the graduates are supposed to be celebrated, it’s not supposed to be a time for anybody to be uncomfortable, regardless of who you are or your political affiliation,” said Jamontray Mike, president of the Mu Omicron chapter of VSU’s Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. “So whether Stacey Abrams got elected or not, political figures, especially at this time, should not have been welcomed here.”

In a statement, the university said, in part, “This commencement will be a unique opportunity for students and their families to hear from the state’s highest leader and the university is committed to fostering a learning environment where open dialogue and the free exchange of ideas are welcomed.”

Kemp is scheduled to speak at Saturday’s ceremony.

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