To: Dr. Michael Rao, President, VCU and VCU Health Systems

Students of VCU Support LGBTQ Rights

Virginia Commonwealth University
Office of the President
910 W Franklin St
Richmond, Virginia 23284

Dear Dr. Michael Rao and the Board of Visitors:

The 2010-2011 academic year has been an amazing and unforgettable experience for VCU students, staff and alumni alike. We would like to thank you for your obvious dedication to this community, from the unwavering support for our student organizations and sports teams to the continued investments in our academic facilities.

As the spring 2011 commencement approaches, however, many members of the current and future graduating classes are strongly opposed to the choice of Governor Bob McDonnell as commencement speaker on May 21, 2011. This letter is intended to express our disappointment that Board of Visitors would choose a speaker that has attacked multiple objectives in the Vision and Goals of the Office of the President. Our graduation speakers represent a powerful face to the public and to the VCU community; we encourage you and the Board of Visitors to choose these individuals carefully in coming years.

Our opposition to Gov. Bob McDonnell as keynote speaker stems from multiple issues. VCU has a diverse and progressive student body and we strive to encourage the equal treatment of all of our students, faculty and staff. Gov. Bob McDonnell has undermined our goals for equality by supporting Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s threat to take action against Virginia’s public colleges and universities that want to ensure anti-discrimination rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He fails to uphold VCU’s mission statement “to value and promote racial and cultural diversity in its student body, faculty, administration and staff.”

Even more abhorrent is his recent threat to withhold funding from our university in response to
tuition increases implemented by the Board of Visitors. This act was an inappropriate and targeted assault on the VCU community that damages VCU’s ability to “ensure and maintain the highest levels of University efficiency, accountability and infrastructure support required to achieve our strategic vision” as outlined in the Vision and Goals of the Office of the President. It is shocking that the Board of Supervisors would choose a graduation speaker that has excessively punished VCU for executing management practices that aim to maintain quality education for its students.

Attached are the signatures of students who are dedicated to the mission and goals of Virginia
Commonwealth University. We encourage courage the Board of Supervisors to extend future keynote speaker invitations only to those individuals that are dedicated to that mission as well. Thank you for your time.


Why is this important?

Governor Bob McDonnell will be giving the spring commencement address at VCU's graduation ceremony on May 21. This news comes less than three months after over 1,000 students rallied to protest the Governor and Attorney General's attempt to negate anti-discrimination policies that protect gays.