Nationwide: Colleges Across the Country Disinvite Commencement Speakers

Category: Free Speech

Every year around commencement time FIRE prepares for what we call “disinvitation season,” when students and faculty members get together to demand that an invited guest speaker—usually a commencement speaker—be disinvited because they disagree with something that speaker did, said, or believes. In 2014, however, disinvitation season rose to unprecedented proportions with a wave of speakers being disinvited or pressured to withdraw from their speaking engagements. This year’s commencement controversies included professors at Rutgers University joining together to demand that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice be disinvited as their commencement speaker, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde backing out of her planned commencement address, Ayaan Hirsi Ali being disinvited from hers, and many others. However, FIRE’s research shows that while they get the most press around graduation time, speaker disinvitation attempts actually take place on a year-round basis.