The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

The Student News Site of Central Oregon Community College

The Broadside

Lori Chavez-DeRemer selected as COCC commencement speaker, students protest

Photo by Kiah Albertus

Central Oregon Community College released the commencement ceremony speaker for the 2023 graduation, Lori Chavez-DeRemer. Chavez-DeRemer represents Oregon’s 5th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives and is the first woman to represent the Republican party in Oregon. Chavez-DeRemer is also known for supporting and voting for two bills that are anti-LGBTQ. 

The commencement speakers are chosen by the Council President, Dr. Laurie Chesley, along with the Board of Trustees. 

Chavez-DeRemer supported recent bills including the House Resolution 734, the “protection of girls in sports act” which would ban transgender girls from participating in sports in school. 

She also supported H.R. 5, the “Parents Bill of Rights,” which would require schools to consult with parents before a student is allowed to change their name or gender.

In response to the announcement of Chavez-DeRemer as the commencement speaker, LGBTQ students and allies as well as the LGBTQ+ Friends club protested by writing letters to the board and to Chavez-DeRemer herself. The group even made petitions to get more students and admin to speak up about their opinions regarding Chavez-DeRemer. Many students also decided to dress up in pride gear to protest at the ceremony. 

“A large majority of students don’t feel safe attending commencement due to the speaker and her transphobic and racist rhetoric and attempts to diminish voices of the community,” said Mal Sotelo, upcoming ASCOCC president for the 2023-2024 school year.

This decision didn’t only leave students outraged, faculty and staff didn’t have any say in who was selected, and in turn many joined in and wrote letters in protest and signed petitions.

While many expressed their hurt and disappointment, the speaker remains Chavez-DeRemer. At the moment it is unknown the reasons as to why the administration chose her, or if there was any discussion in changing the speaker. Graduation began on June 17 at 10 a.m. 

“I am personally stunned by the choice of the speaker as well as the response of the college leadership. The focus should always be about our students instead of causing discontent and division,” said Drey Aguire, the current ASCOCC president.

Miina McCown contributed reporting.

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Colette Lorge
Colette Lorge, Staff reporter
Colette Lorge is a staff writer for The Broadside. She started contributing to the online publication in the spring of 2023.

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    StevenSep 27, 2023 at 11:00 am

    This seems pretty close-minded of the protesters to not hear out the story and feelings of the speaker. What does it say about their rhetoric?