She was giving the commencement address to 380 graduates at the historically black college. Many of them thought she didn’t deserve to be giving the speech in the first place, and didn’t hesitate to her know that.
DeVos was selected as the keynote speaker at the university just about one week prior to the ceremony, and it caused many tensions with the student body who didn’t think it was an appropriate choice.
Almost immediately after she took to the podium to give her remarks, students started booing her. Some of them stood up from their chairs and turned their backs, while others continued to heckle DeVos.
She opened her speech by saying, “While we will undoubtedly disagree at times, I hope we can do so respectfully. Let’s choose to hear one another out.”
Watch a video of DeVos being booed below:
DeVos was awarded and honorary doctorate at the college. The ceremony was supposed to last about an hour in all, and DeVos spoke on stage for about 20 minutes.
As the ceremony started, school president Edison Jackson warned students to behave, CNN reported.
“If this behavior continues, your degrees will be mailed to you,” he said. “choose which way you want to go.”
Here’s another angle from the stands at the commencement ceremony.
One student in the audience, Bobbie Luke, was escorted out of the ceremony during DeVos’ speech. He told CNN afterward that he wasn’t sure why he was removed.
“I’m standing with my seniors, man. No one likes her, man. Period,” he said to the news network. “I don’t like what she said, and nothing at the end of the day is going to change my opinion.”
Protests had taken place on campus one day before the ceremony, with petitions being passed around and signed by thousands of people demanding that leaders at the university change their plans.
Much of the reason students objected to her giving the speech is because of her statement — that’s since been recanted — saying that the founders of historically black colleges were the “real pioneers” of school choice. But historically black colleges were actually founded when black students weren’t allowed to attend white colleges in the South.