Convocation takes place on the Saturday of the graduation weekend.

Courtesy of Cornell University

Convocation takes place on the Saturday of the graduation weekend.

April 12, 2019

Committee Delays Announcement of 2019 Convocation Speaker, Citing Contentious S.A. Divestment Vote

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The Cornell Convocation Committee delayed its announcement of the 2019 convocation speaker Thursday, attributing the last-minute change to a contentious Student Assembly vote earlier in the evening.

The committee had planned to reveal that comedian Hasan Minhaj would speak at graduation, according to two people familiar with the planned announcement who were not authorized to speak publicly. Charlotte Lefkowitz ’19, the committee chair, would not confirm whether Minhaj would be the convocation speaker or say when an announcement would be made.

It is unclear if Minhaj is still slated to speak at convocation.

Lefkowitz told S.A. meeting attendees that she would not disclose the commencement speaker due to the assembly’s vote on Resolution 36, which urges Cornell to divest from companies “profiting from the occupation of Palestine and human rights violations.” After the meeting, she wrote on Facebook that the “serious nature” of the failed vote was the reason for the delay.

“The entire committee is working diligently, and we understand the delay can be frustrating,” Lefkowitz said in a statement to The Sun late on Thursday. “We will be updating you online once we have all the details ironed out to our satisfaction to ensure the best experience for the entire Cornell community.”

Lefkowitz said that the committee is “excited to announce our 2019 convocation speaker, and it’ll be worth the wait!”

The convocation announcement and the divestment vote had been scheduled for the same S.A. meeting for over a week.

This is the second time the convocation speaker announcement has been postponed. The identity of the speaker was originally scheduled to be released on March 21.

Dale Barbaria ’19, S.A. vice president for finance and a member of the convocation committee, said that “money was not a factor” in the change. He said he first learned of the postponement a few minutes before the public announcement.

Both Joe Anderson ’20, S.A. executive vice president and Jaewon Sim ’21, S.A. vice president of internal operations, told The Sun that they were not aware of the postponement until it happened. Neither individual sits on the convocation committee.

As of early Friday, the announcement of the May 25 speaker had not been rescheduled.

Dylan McDevitt ’19 and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs ’19 contributed reporting to this article.