Mississippi News

Wicker: Encourages graduates to pursue public service

By Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

The Future Is Bright For Mississippi’s Young People

As the school year is winding down, college campuses have hit headlines nationwide. Normally, this season brings us stories of proud families celebrating graduates. Unfortunately, most of today’s news is troubling, covering the wave of anti-Israel protests sweeping our universities.

This month, my wife, Gayle, and I were honored to speak at graduation ceremonies. Gayle spoke at Mississippi College, her alma mater, and I spoke at that institution’s law school. Both of us have been dismayed by reports from some of the recent campus protests. For that reason, we used our remarks to remind students of core American values, like service and the rule of law.

Commissioning Graduates to Lives of Service

Gayle reminded graduates how they can change their neighbors’ lives through simple acts of kindness. She shared the story of former Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry, who altered the trajectory of a young girl’s life simply by pausing to spend some time with her.

In my speech, I encouraged the future attorneys to follow the example of great lawyers of the past. Among them were Mississippi prosecutors who stood up to the Ku Klux Klan and promoted the rule of law. These heroes fought for justice even when doing so was unpopular or even dangerous.

By sharing these examples, we hoped to encourage graduates to pursue a lifetime of public service.

Mississippi Institutions Equip the Next Generation

In addition to its undergraduate and graduate schools, Mississippi hosts an increasing number of trade programs, which equip students with specialized skills they can use in a number of industries.

This month, Ingalls Shipbuilding announced the latest graduating class of its Shipbuilding Academy. For years, this program has taught high school students the techniques of the trade. Twenty-five of these graduates were offered full-time positions at the company, jobs in which they can use their skills and support our nation’s security at the same time.

Keeping College Campuses Safe

The joyful tone of these graduation celebrations stands in sharp contrast to the protests that have erupted at colleges nationwide. Every American has the right to free speech. Unfortunately, some protestors have used that right to spew hateful words, or they have crossed the line into lawbreaking.

Jewish students have been blocked from attending class, and mobs have chanted “from the river to the sea,” a menacing call for the extermination of the state of Israel. Protestors have violated countless policies at numerous universities. They have targeted Jewish students, closed down buildings, and expressed support for the terrorist group Hamas.

That list is just a sample of the harmful behavior, but it communicates the threatening environment created by the protests. A rabbi working at Columbia University was so worried about violence that he recommended all Jewish students stay at home until the demonstrations ended.

These actions are hateful and senseless. They are the latest example of a rise in anti-Semitic behavior on college campuses – and even at primary and secondary schools. I have urged the Secretary of Education to do more to protect Jewish K-12 students from discrimination. This month, I helped introduce a bill which would prevent protestors from receiving any federal student loan relief if they have been convicted of a state or federal offense in connection with a campus demonstration.

In graduation speeches and in Congress, I hope to promote open dialogue that welcomes students of all religions and backgrounds. Doing so fosters the education that will help them become productive members of society.

Note: The following article is the weekly “Wicker Report” of U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and is provided by the Senator’s office. Any opinions expressed are that of the author and not necessarily that of this publication.