We have heard from many individuals in attendance Saturday regarding their disappointment with the content of the student speaker’s remarks. The phrase used in her speech is highly controversial and perceived as antisemitic by both individuals and multiple organizations. Antisemitic statements and slogans violate Southwestern University’s core values and, as such, are not condoned by the leadership of the University.

The University neither approved the student’s remarks nor was informed of her intentions prior to the event. The speaker selection process has been in place for years. All current Phi Beta Kappa members nominate candidates. Members vote on the names listed. The selected student provides a draft of the speech and practices it with a member of the Student Life team. Edits are suggested for delivery and vocabulary. The student provides a final copy. The speech that was given at commencement was not approved.

We deeply value our academic community’s diversity of perspectives and their desire to freely express those perspectives. We also expect that student speeches at university-wide events reflect our commitment to a respectful and inclusive environment, while still upholding academic freedom that is the center of our mission. Unfortunately, certain comments did not reflect our respectful and inclusive environment. We are committed to an ongoing dialogue about maintaining this balance effectively and ensuring that our community continues as a place of learning and respect.