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  1. Commencement ceremonies are mostly pretty similar, one to another. Graduates, caps and gowns, polite attention to a speaker at a podium. But at the University of North Texas, the keynote speaker the governor of the state addressed just a tiny fraction of the graduating class. And part of that small audience was actively protesting him turning away from him, holding anti-Gov. Greg Abbott signs. A spokeswoman for the university in Denton, Tex., north of Dallas, said last-minute changes to the ceremony, moving it from an outdoor football field to an indoor coliseum after heavy rain and the possibility of hail and tornadoes was forecast, meant that many members of the senior class got their diplomas in smaller ceremonies at the coliseum prior to the keynote address. Once we made those changes and notifications, we were not sure how many students would participate but had space to accommodate close to 1,000, said Kelley Reese, a spokeswoman, in an e-mail. The choice of Abbott ® had been controversial from the moment it was announced in early April, with many planning to boycott or protest the ceremony. Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2015/05/21/the-governor-gave-the-commencement-speech-to-very-few-people/
  2. Students at the University of North Texas are outraged with the school’s chosen commencement speaker for next month’s graduation and more than 2,400 students have signed a petition to have him replaced. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ® is set to speak at the ceremony in May, but students who have signed the petition argue that he is unfit to speak because they disagree with his political stances. Kimberly Williams, a student who signed the petition, wrote that, “[h]e is not the appropriate person to lead our young leaders into the world,” and continued on to list specific incidents of his alleged anti-feminism. Allyson Nophsker said, “I'm signing because I want to attend my own graduation ceremony, but cannot due to my moral disagreements with Abbot's [sic] policies.” The petition reads: “The University of North Texas’ student body is made up of students from all walks of life. Therefore, it is pivotal that our keynote speaker be someone who reflects not only our student population but our views on equality and representation. Governor Abbott is an advocate for immigration reform, border patrol, and anti-equal marriage laws. This does not align the spirit of the University of North Texas which prides itself in providing equal opportunities for their students. While Governor Abbott's story is inspirational, his views on inequality cannot be overshadowed by this. Our Mean Green Pride comes from being heard and respected. Which is why we ask University President Neal Smatresk to find a new keynote speaker for graduation.” Libby Goins, a 2013 graduate of UNT, told Campus Reform that she “absolutely” supported Abbott as the commencement speaker, “not just because of his political views— [but because] he’s the governor of the state.” “It’s an honor for UNT to have any governor visit their campus,” Goins said. “He is congratulating them on their accomplishments,” and “doing UNT a favor.” read more: http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6457
  3. Trans activist Pam Curry will speak at the Lavender Graduation, an LGBT graduation ceremony planned for April 18. The event has been planned since September and the LGBT group on campus hopes it becomes an annual event. Since Gov. Greg Abbott was named the schools commencement speaker, many more students are planning to attend the Lavender Graduation and the group Abbott Free UNT has been promoting it as an alternative to the governor. Almost 2,000 people signed an online petition to dump Abbott as the speaker, according to CBS 11. Protesting Abbotts views on marriage equality and education, students created the Facebook page Abbott Free UNT and posted comments like, Upset about Greg Abbott???? Protest by walking out of the ceremony as soon as he takes the stage! Attend your department graduations or attend LAVENDER GRADUATION hosted by the Pride Alliance. Spencer Keralis, who sent the invitation to Curry to speak at the Lavender Graduation, is connected to the UNT libraries that house the LGBT archives. Curry accepted the invitation and wrote on her Facebook page, I will approach this as a challenge to be the motivation, and inspiration that Gov Abbott cant and wont be. So Im asking for the prayers from all my friends. Read more: http://m.dallasvoice.com/trans-activist-speak-alternate-unt-graduation-ceremony-10193353.html?mobile-redirector-transfer=true
  4. Full petition text: "The University of North Texas' student body is made up of students from all walks of life. Therefore, it is pivotal that our keynote speaker be someone who reflects not only our student population but our views on equality and representation. Governor Abbott is an advocate for immigration reform, border patrol, and anti-equal marriage laws. This does not align the spirit of the University of North Texas which prides itself in providing equal opportunities for their students. While Governor Abbott's story is inspirational, his views on inequality cannot be overshadowed by this. Our Mean Green Pride comes from being heard and respected. Which is why we ask University President Neal Smatresk to find a new keynote speaker for graduation." Read more: http://m.chron.com/news/politics/texas/article/North-Texas-students-say-no-to-Greg-Abbott-6189372.php
  5. Gov. Greg Abbott will speak at the University of North Texas graduation next month even though some students promise to boycott their own commencement ceremony if he gives the keynote address. More than 2,000 students have signed an online petition asking UNT officials to choose a different speaker for their May ceremony. While Governor Abbotts story is inspirational, his views on inequality cannot be overshadowed by this, the petition states. Our Mean Green Pride comes from being heard and respected. Which is why we ask University President Neal Smatresk to find a new keynote speaker for graduation. Smatresk said hes not changing speakers and hes excited that the states 48th governor will speak at the ceremony. Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/article17728151.html#storylink=cpy
  6. DENTON (CBS 11 NEWS) The announcement that Governor Greg Abbott will be the keynote speaker at the University of North Texas commencement ceremony has been met with an online backlash from students. Nearly 2,000 people, as of Monday evening, have signed an online petition asking the universitys president to replace Abbott as the commencement speaker. Hundreds have also joined Facebook group called Abbott Free UNT. Abbott doesnt represent the campus on many levels, said senior UNT student A.J. Aguinaga, who now plans to skip the ceremony. Read more: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2015/04/06/backlash-at-unt-over-governor-abbott-as-graduation-speaker/
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