Cancel culture was not strong enough to prevent First Lady Melania Trump from receiving a “Woman of Distinction” award from Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA), where student protests failed to keep her from the honor.
Speaking at the university’s annual Women of Distinction luncheon, the first lady said she was honored to receive the award, which recognizes women “who cherish community and family and want to preserve these ideals for others,” according to The Hill.
“As the First Lady of the United States, it is a great honor to serve the people of this incredible country,” said Melania Trump as she plugged her Be Best initiative, which seeks to curtail cyberbullying and opioid abuse among children.
“When we teach our children to cherish our values and care for each other, they are better prepared to carry on Americans’ legacy of compassion, service, and patriotism,” she said.
The Women of Distinction event began in 1991 and Melania Trump is the only first lady thus far to receive the honor. Upon announcing her name, the university said that Melania Trump’s platform aligns with the shool’s “emphasis on encouraging the potential of each person.” Students, however, protested the school’s decision, arguing that the award typically goes to women charitably giving to the local community. Tyler Whitehead, president of the school’s College Democrats group, said the “vast majority” of students and faculty were displeased.
“The vast majority of students and faculty that I have spoken to about the decision were disappointed by what seems to be a politically-motivated move on the university’s part,” Whitehead said in a statement.
One student, Graysen Boehning, told The Hill that Melania Trump’s character was not reflective of the community.
“This award has historically gone to women whose character and impact in Palm Beach has shaped the culture of our home, and I have not been convinced that the first lady’s character or impact here is worthy of that recognition,” one student, Graysen Boehning, told The Hill. “While many students were excited that the school was bringing in the First Lady of the United States to speak, others felt that her character was not representative of the community of love for people of all backgrounds and beliefs that PBA houses and fosters.”
Austin Gergen, the vice president of the school’s College Republicans group, said that the school made a “donor-oriented” decision to award Melania Trump over all else.
“I’ve talked to other students who believe this will tank their chances at graduate school, and I definitely think they’re overreacting, but I understand their concern. Overall, I think this was most likely a donor-oriented decision rather than a moral one,” he said.
Frequently, university students have protested members of Trump’s administration or Trump’s family receiving honors at the school, such as when Mike Pence gave the commencement address at Notre Dame or when George Mason University had Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh teach a class in England for the summer. Fortunately, despite heated rhetoric and accusations of homophobia, sexism, racism, etc., the schools did not cave to student demands.