Students are in talks with administration after a petition to replace Congressmember Peter King as St. John’s University’s commencement speaker surpassed 1,000 signatures, The Courier has learned.
An online protest against the Long Island representative hit headlines last week, when students called for the school to dump King as this year’s key note speaker.
“Congressman King has had his say. Now it is our turn to speak,” reads the petition, which was started by senior Jonaki Singh.
Outraged students were against “discriminatory and offensive comments” they said King made throughout his congressional tenure on issues like bilingual education and domestic terrorism.
“At a school with such a diverse student body, the views that Congressman King represent will be contradictory to our experience and who we are striving to become,” the petition says.
Nearly 1,100 former and current students and faculty have signed the petition as of April 22.
The number is now enough for administration to listen to their concerns, sources said.
St. John’s did not comment on the discussions between students.
King said he was proud to be chosen as St. John’s commencement speaker and sad the school had to be “dragged into this fight.”
“Students at St. John’s University are protesting my selection as this year’s commencement speaker. That, of course, is their right even though they are misguided and wrong,” he said in a statement. “But the right of free speech and academic freedom is paramount, and I commend St. John’s University.”
The Johnnies graduate on May 19.