President Trump’s polarizing Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos will likely face a hostile crowd as she gives a keynote speech at the University of Baltimore’s commencement Monday afternoon.
DeVos’ selection in September sparked on-campus protests and petitions demanding that the invitation to speak be rescinded. Students criticized Devos’ support for “school choice,” which many felt showed a lack of faith and support for public education.
But University President Kurt Schmoke, the former mayor of Baltimore, stood by his decision. “I do feel that having the U.S. Secretary of Education on our campus is something that’s very important for the university, and in the long run, I believe that students will recognize that whether they agree with her position on issues or not,” he told The Baltimore Sun.
Protests are planned anyway at 1 p.m. which has required the school to beef up security with a combination of university guards, local police, and DeVos’ personal security team. The protests are also racially charged after DeVos’ applauded historically black colleges earlier this year for being “real pioneers when it comes to school choice,” apparently not realizing that the schools were a response to racial segregation and not a pro-school choice endeavor. Those comments led many students to turn their back on DeVos at a spring commencement at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college.
While the University of Baltimore is not technically an HBCU, the majority of undergraduates enrolled there are people of color, according to the university. DeVos’ reception will be worth watching.