Internet InfoMedia vcu students walk out of gov youngkins commencement speech

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Dozens of graduating students walked out of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) on Saturday after Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin took the stage to deliver a commencement address. 

Video of the Saturday morning incident shows throngs of graduates getting up from their seats and exiting Greater Richmond Convention Center as the Republican governor began talking. A few could be heard cheering the students on. 

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RICHMOND, VA – MAY 11: Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin delivers the VCU commencement address in Richmond, Va., May 11, 2024. (Parker Michels-Boyce for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(Parker Michels-Boyce for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The governor, who also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Saturday’s commencement, kicked off his speech with a shout-out to all the moms ahead of Mother’s Day. He did not acknowledge those leaving and carried on with his speech. 

“The world needs your music,” Youngkin said to those students still in attendance. “You, all of you, will be the symphony. Make it a masterpiece.” 


Many who left during Youngkin’s speech showed support for Palestinians amid Israel’s ongoing war in the Gaza Strip against Hamas terrorists. Others held signs signaling their opposition to the governor’s education policies, per reporting from local outlet WRIC-TV

The dissenters marched around the perimeter chanting, “No books, no peace, let the knowledge increase” and “disclose, divest, we will not stop, we will not rest.” Later a group of graduates, many still donning their graduation gowns, ended up in a park, chanting: “the people united will never be defeated.”

Fox News Digital has reached out to the VCU and the governor’s office for comment. 

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 Dozens of students walk out of the auditorium as Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin begins to speak during the VCU commencement ceremony in Richmond, Va., May 11, 2024.  (Parker Michels-Boyce for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Similar scenes broke out at other commencement ceremonies across the country on Saturday, following weeks of unrest on college campuses that saw anti-Israel protesters square off against administrators. 


Saturday was less chaotic than Friday, when police arrested dozens on other college campuses and took down encampments at the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – actions that came hours after police deployed teargas on demonstrators at the University of Arizona. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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