NBC’s Today Show reported this morning on “disinvitation season,” highlighting the recent controversies in which speakers have been disinvited from university commencement ceremonies or have withdrawn under pressure from critics. FIRE President Greg Lukianoff made an appearance on the show to note that the trend reflects a worrying sense of entitlement on the part of many college students: “The danger here is that we send a message to students that they have a right to only hear from people that they already agree with.”
NBC correspondent Peter Alexander argued that the disinvitations from graduation events were “all the more stunning because commencement addresses are traditionally less about politics and more about sharing those pearls of wisdom with new graduates.” Yet as he notes, even less obviously political speakers like Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs have faced protesters demanding that their speeches be canceled.
As The Today Show reports, since 2012, there have been publicized accounts of at least 25 speakers being disinvited or withdrawing from speaking engagements at colleges and universities across the country. And according to research by FIRE, in the past five and a half years, over twice as many speakers were disinvited or successfully pressured to withdraw than in the six years before that.