Susan Svrluga, Washington Post, May 24, 2016
Some people in the crowd at a graduation ceremony at California State University, Fullerton, shouted at the commencement speaker after she talked about presidential candidate Donald Trump and gave a brief section of her address in Spanish.
Denise De La Cruz, a graduating senior who wrote about it for the OC Weekly described it this way:
Salinas’ speech was well-received until it became a little too Latino-centric for some and blatantly anti-Trump. The Univision broadcaster began specifically congratulating Latino journalism graduates for what seemed like a large chunk of her speech. She then began speaking in Spanish . . . This left non-journalism grads and non-Latinos/non-Spanish speakers feeling excluded. Parents in the audience and even students in the ceremony began demanding Salinas switch to a more inclusive tone by shouting phrases such as, “What about us?!”
Tensions worsened as Salinas began offering advice to journalism students to use the tools of media to rebut political figures such as Donald Trump. That’s when folks began yelling things to Salinas such as, “Get off the stage!” and “Trash!”
Salinas said Tuesday that she could hear some yelling but she didn’t know what the people were saying. A student told her later that some were upset. She said the dean of the college told her beforehand that they had just started a student-run Spanish-language newscast, and that students would love it if she spoke Spanish. She only spoke for a few minutes, and switched to Spanish briefly to encourage students interested in going into Spanish-language media and to tell them she has a scholarship for them, and the rest of the remarks were to all students, she said.
In a video, a varied response can be heard from the crowd.
Salinas said: “… they blame us so much for so many things, that now they’re even blaming us, the media, for creating Donald Trump. Imagine that.” Yells can be heard from the crowd. “Isn’t that terrible? But we didn’t, right? Who did it?” she asked rhetorically. “I don’t know. Who did it? But they’re to blame.”
More yelling can be heard.
“If you allow me to say a few words in Spanish,” she said, and someone called out, “No!”
When she spoke in Spanish, wishing students well on their “future in this country,” her words were followed by cheers and applause. She expressed pride in their accomplishment, then switched back to English and said it’s wonderful to speak two languages, to more cheering.
On social media, one graduate wrote that it wasn’t racism–they were upset that she was talking to just one ethnicity rather than addressing the whole student body.
Another said that students were annoyed that she was inserting divisive politics into a speech meant for all graduates.