VCU students walk out of Gov Youngkin’s commencement speech

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Dozens of graduating students walked out of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) on Saturday after Gov. Glenn Youngkin took the stage to deliver a commencement address. 

Video of the Saturday morning incident shows throngs of graduates getting up from their seats and leaving the Greater Richmond Convention Center as the Republican governor began talking. A few could be heard cheering the students on.

The governor, who also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the commencement ceremony, kicked off his speech with a shout-out to all the mothers ahead of Mother’s Day. He did not acknowledge those leaving and carried on with his speech. 

“The world needs your music,” Youngkin said to those students still in attendance. “You, all of you, will be the symphony. Make it a masterpiece.”

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Many who left during Youngkin’s speech showed support for Palestinians amid Israel’s ongoing war in the Gaza Strip against Hamas terrorists. Others held signs signaling their opposition to the governor’s education policies, per reporting from local outlet WRIC-TV

The dissenters marched around the perimeter while chanting, “No books, no peace, let the knowledge increase” and “Disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest.” Later, a group of graduates, many still in their graduation gowns, ended up in a park and chanted, “The people united will never be defeated.”

Fox News Digital reached out to VCU and the governor’s office for comment.

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Similar scenes unfolded at other commencement ceremonies across the country on Saturday following weeks of unrest on college campuses that saw anti-Israel protesters square off against administrators.

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Saturday was less chaotic than Friday, when police arrested dozens on other college campuses and took down encampments at the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – actions that came hours after police deployed tear gas on demonstrators at the University of Arizona.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.