From the LA Times:

Two months ago, I was invited to give a graduation speech at UC Irvine. As a graduate of a couple of University of California campuses, including Irvine, I felt deeply honored. A few weeks later, however, I got an e-mail begging me not to do it. And then several phone calls, all from representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. AFSCME wanted me to join a "speakers' boycott" on behalf of its members, who are angry at UC's administrators over wage cuts and layoffs. "You speaking at commencement gives the administration prestige," explained Fernando Chirino, a UCI grad student working with AFSCME. "If you don't speak, you'll be making a political statement...." For starters, I didn't buy the argument that my absence from the speakers' platform "punished" administrators. The graduation ceremony, I told them, isn't UC property. It's a celebration of the democratic values that bring people to a public university, and of the work and sacrifice that go into every diploma. A graduation ceremony, I said, belongs to the graduates.

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