Texas Southern University in Houston said Friday that it has canceled its commencement speech by John Cornyn, the U.S. senator who represents the public university. The decision comes amid outcry on campus over the Republican senator's support for the Trump administration.
Cornyn had been set to speak at the historically black university on Saturday. The university said in a statement that it has asked Cornyn "to instead visit with our students again at a future date in order to keep the focus on graduates and their families."
"We, along with Senator Cornyn, agree that the primary focus of commencement should be a celebration of academic achievement," the statement said.
The statement didn't specifically give a reason for the cancellation. But Cornyn's planned appearance had been generating pushback. A petition on Change.org had generated 846 signatures. The petition said, "Having a politician such as him speak at our institution is an insult to the students, to TSU, and to all [historically black colleges and universities]."
The statement from the university didn't specifically comment on those concerns. When asked whether the decision was in response to student opposition, university spokesman Kendrick D. Callis responded, "The only thing I can say is that it was done to ensure that our students and families enjoyed their special day."
"Commencement exercises are special moments for our students, their families and the entire university," the university statement said. "Every consideration is made to ensure that our student's graduation day is a celebratory occasion and one they will remember positively for years to come."
The Texas Tribune reached out to Cornyn's office for comment, and was told that the senator would have a response soon.
Disclosure: Texas Southern University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.
Texas Tribune mission statement
The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
2017 THE TEXAS TRIBUNE