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See how many of the top 100 colleges invited conservatives to speak at commencement

A graduate wears a cap decorated with a Trump campaign sticker during the commencement on May 13 at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. President Donald Trump was the first sitting president to speak at Liberty's commencement since then-President George H.W. Bush spoke in 1990. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A lack of ideological diversity continues to be a thorn in the side of America’s leading institutions of higher education, according to a new report.

Based on a new survey conducted by the conservative Young America’s Foundation, the top 100 colleges in the United States invited 45 liberal keynote speakers to commencement while only four conservatives were requested to deliver the graduation address.

Not all of the top colleges, which were compiled into a list by the U.S. News and World Report, fit clearly into the YAF’s list. Twenty-nine of the speakers had an unclear ideological affiliation while 22 schools either had various speakers, no primary speaker, the college president as the speaker, or had not yet announced a speaker.

“Conservative speakers have drawn record crowds on campuses around the country,” YAF spokesman Spencer Brown said, noting the many events the conservative group has held at colleges across the country. “[Y]AF provides the intellectual diversity that far too many leftist administrators work to suppress today."

“America’s top colleges and universities are out of touch with America’s young people, and continue to rob students of the chance to think critically,” he said. “Instead, these ‘leading’ institutions feed students a never-ending stream of one-sided lessons. That’s not education, it’s indoctrination.”

The four conservatives who were invited to speak are Vice President Mike Pence, who was met with some protesting during his speech at the University of Notre Dame Sunday, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, sportscaster Ernie Johnson, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mayor G.T. Bynum.

President Donald Trump delivered the commencement address at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, May 13. Though the college, which is helmed by Trump supporter Jerry Falwell Jr., isn’t among the nation’s top 100 institutions, it is the world’s largest Christian university.

The liberal speakers included former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), actor and comedian Will Ferrell, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (D), and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Media personalities such as New York Times columnist Frank Bruni, CNN personalities Jake Tapper, Brooke Baldwin, and Christiane Amanpour, and MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhe also delivered commencement addresses.

As Young America’s Foundation pointed out in its report, the failure to be open to conservative viewpoints is made even clearer when 2017 is compared to the first year of former President Barack Obama’s time in the White House.

Apart from Vice President Mike Pence, no members of President Donald Trump’s administration have been invited to speak at the top 100 colleges this spring. By comparison, in 2009, 11 of the commencement addresses in the country’s top 100 institutions were delivered by members of the Obama White House.

Pence addressed the dearth of ideological diversity in colleges during his speech at Notre Dame, saying, “Far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech.”

Pence went on to say that the “increasing intolerance and suppression of the time-honored tradition of free expression on our campuses jeopardizes the liberties of every American.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos offered a similar sentiment when she spoke at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university in Daytona Beach, Florida, earlier this month.

“One of the hallmarks of higher education and of democracy,” she said, “is the ability to converse with and learn from those with whom we disagree.”

It became increasingly difficult for DeVos to encourage that conversation, though, as students and alumni incessantly screamed at and booed the secretary throughout her speech.

One last thing…
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