USC valedictorian Asna Tabassum speaks out after school cancels her speech

Citing safety concerns, USC made the decision to cancel Asna Tabassum's speech at the school's graduation ceremony on May 10. The school didn't elaborate on what the safety concerns were, or why they would revoke the valedictorian's ability to deliver the speech well after they had chosen her to represent her graduating class. Tabassum, a first generation South Asian American Muslim, studied biomedical engineering with a minor in Resistance to Genocide. Her Instagram displays a link to free Palestine resources. Despite the school's insistence that their revocation was over Tabassum's safety and security, Tasna highly doubts whether that was the root issue.

"I am both shocked by this decision and profoundly disappointed that the University is succumbing to a campaign of hate meant to silence my voice," Tabassum said in an online statement she released via the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Los Angeles. "I am not surprised by those who attempt to propagate hatred. I am surprised that my own university – my home for four years – has abandoned me."

[…]The doubts linger "because I am not aware of any specific threats against me or the university, because my request for the details underlying the university's threat assessment has been denied, and because I am not being provided any increased safety to be able to speak at commencement," Tabassum said.

Alisha Ebrahimji and Melissa Alonso, CNN

Her interview with CNN is remarkable. Tabassum hadn't even begun to work on her valedictory speech when the university revoked her privileges.

USC, in their attempt to tamp down a potentially political graduation speech, has instead ignited the Streisand Effect to it's fullest potential.