*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE* MAY 29, 2017
Brooklyn, NY: The Young Progressives of America, a political and activist organization of students based at Long Island University Brooklyn, condemns the outbreak of violence at a protest against Linda Sarsour and supports her address to the School of Public Health and Health Policy, City University of New York, at its commencement ceremony.
YPA supports Ms. Sarsour, a Palestinian-Muslim-American and civil rights leader, to speak on issues that matter without obstruction from outside forces. America’s longstanding right to free speech and academic freedom must not be impeded by people who do not share her values of respect and dignity for others.
Ms. Sarsour has been on the front lines of important issues and has lent her efforts as co-chair for the Women’s march. Her experiences will be of value to graduating students as they go out into the world and apply their knowledge in advocating for policies that address society’s most critical health issues.
With all the anti-Muslim rhetoric and escalation in hate crimes against Muslim-Americans and minorities since the election of Donald Trump, it is important that Ms. Sarsour be given a platform to speak out against the bigotry and divisiveness that white nationalists are embracing – and instead, encourage solidarity and unity so we can tackle the tough challenges ahead. Diversity is our greatest asset as a society: we must not let the voices of racism and bigotry diminish the contributions that immigrants and their descendants have made in making America what it is today.
James B. Milliken, chancellor of CUNY, stated that Ms. Sarsour had a right to be the speaker based on her selection by the school to deliver its commencement address. He also noted that if he and the CUNY Board of Trustees were to heed the calls for the cancellation of her address it would impede on academic freedoms. Ms. Sarsour has received numerous awards for her work in Arab-American relations, including one from former President Obama in 2014, making her an appropriate choice.
Carlos Jesus, YPA President, called for “the CUNY administration to ensure that Ms. Sarsour is not prevented from her commencement address by white nationalists and those bent on silencing minorities.”
Freedom of speech must be defended and protected for everyone, regardless of who they are. Opposition towards Ms. Sarsour’s views should not disqualify her from addressing graduating students, who are poised to go into the world and bring about change in the field of public health and health policy.
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