USC president censured by faculty for handling of pro-Palestinian protests

USC faculty criticized Carol Folt for blocking an address by the school's valedictorian.
Carol L. Folt
Posted at 5:27 AM, May 09, 2024

The University of Southern California's Academic Senate voted Wednesday to censure President Carol Folt following several weeks of turmoil on the school's Los Angeles campus.

The group representing USC faculty criticized Folt for blocking an address by the school's valedictorian, who is Muslim, and canceling the commencement ceremony. The group also slammed her for calling in Los Angeles Police to arrest dozens of pro-Palestentian protesters earlier this week and clearing their encampment.

In a statement, she pledged to work with faculty members as the university deals with the aftermath of the protest.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators remove belongings from an encampment.

U.S. News

Pro-Palestinian protesters at USC comply with school order to leave their encampment

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Folt thanked police on Sunday for clearing protesters from the campus.

"Despite our efforts to de-escalate, the occupation was spiraling in a dangerous direction over the last several days. Areas of campus were blocked, people walking down Trousdale, our main thoroughfare, were harassed, and iconic Trojan symbols were defaced," she said. "In addition, university property was stolen, and commencement structures were dismantled. Residence halls, campus thoroughfares, and libraries had become places of confrontation. Some finals were disrupted with noise and chanting during mandated quiet periods."

She added, "This had to stop."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said the decision to cancel valedictorian Asas Tabassum's speech was "cowardly."

“USC cannot hide its cowardly decision behind a disingenuous concern for ‘security.’ Asna is an incredibly accomplished student whose academic and extracurricular accomplishments made her the ideal and historic recipient of this year’s valedictorian’s honor," CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush said last month. "The university can, should and must ensure a safe environment for graduation rather than taking the unprecedented step of cancelling a valedictorian’s speech."