In two groundbreaking studies, Young America’s Foundation has uncovered concerning patterns within commencement ceremonies at the top 100 colleges and universities in the United States. The studies, which examined the political ideologies of speakers and the prevalence of segregated graduation ceremonies, shed light on the ideological landscape and inclusivity within America’s institutions of higher learning.
YAF’s 31st annual Commencement Speaker Survey reveals a disconcerting narrative: the unwavering dominance of liberal perspectives in senior send-off ceremonies. Out of the 100 schools surveyed, an overwhelming 60 liberal speakers were identified, while only a single conservative voice made its way to the podium. This stark contrast highlights a potential lack of ideological diversity and the need for a more comprehensive representation of perspectives during these crucial moments in students’ lives.
In stark contrast to the traditional ideals of higher education, YAF’s inaugural Commencement Ceremony Segregation Report examines the prevalence of segregated graduation ceremonies among the same group of top universities. The findings expose a troubling reality, with a significant 86 out of the 100 schools organizing segregated ceremonies for the class of 2023. These separate ceremonies catered to various demographic groups, including 78 LGBTQ ceremonies, 47 black ceremonies, 43 Hispanic ceremonies, 25 Asian ceremonies, 18 Native American ceremonies, 5 Middle Eastern ceremonies, and 3 female ceremonies.
Colleges and universities must foster an environment where all students can come together to commemorate their accomplishments as one united community, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexuality, or any other characteristic. Commencement addresses should not exclusively cater to one side of the aisle or another. These ceremonies are times for motivational messages and celebration — not speeches about abolishing the police by Nicole Fleetwood (hosted by The University of Miami), roundabout and nonsensical platitudes by Vice President Kamala Harris (West Point) and Karine Jeanne Piere (Rice University), or requests for pandemic amnesty by Dr. Anthony Fauci (Michigan State University).
Without the efforts of conservative students who partner with Young America’s Foundation to bring prominent conservatives to their college campuses, the vast majority of students would likely go their entire four years in college without having the opportunity to be inspired by conservative ideas.
These studies serve as a wake-up call to universities across the nation, urging them to reevaluate their commitment to ideological diversity and the “inclusivity” they so frequently tout. Without a balanced representation of perspectives, these institutions are creating an environment that stifles intellectual growth and fails to adequately prepare students for the challenges of the real world.