Latino Students Weigh in on Univision Anchor Booed at Graduation

Image: Univision News Anchor and Commencement speaker Mar?a Elena Salinas
Univision News Anchor and Commencement speaker Mar?a Elena Salinas delivers the keynote address The College Communications at California State University, Fullerton on May 22, 2016. Applauding behind her is Robert Istad, professor of music and the ceremony's faculty marshal.Matthew Gush / California State University, Fullerton

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By Brian Latimer

Univision anchor María Elena Salinas was booed during her graduation speech at the University of California, Fullerton College of Communications May 22, and Latino students were uncomfortable throughout the speech because some people jeered as Salinas singled out Hispanic journalism students.

Toward the end of her speech, Salinas addressed the growing anti-media rhetoric in the presidential primaries. While she criticized how people blame the mainstream media for "creating" presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, one graduate in attendance, Denise De La Cruz, said that is when most of the negative reactions to her speech peaked.

Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas taking a selfie after her speech.Maria Elena Salinas' Instagram.

"From the beginning it was already uncomfortable for people, but as she said Trump's name it totally blew up," said Denise Dela Cruz, a Latina journalism graduate who wrote about the speech. "Mostly in the beginning, when she kept mentioning Latino journalism graduates, non-journalism majors and non-Latino graduates started feeling excluded. I heard people start muttering negative things, and someone shouted 'what about us?'"

"I am a Latina journalist," De La Cruz said, "and while I do appreciate she was addressing me and spoke Spanish so may parents could understand, for my fellow students of mixed races — white, African American and Asian — I did feel a little uncomfortable. I could see they were uncomfortable because they weren’t being addressed."

Doris Muñoz, another Latina graduating from College of Communication, said she is a first-generation college student and the first in her family to get a university degree. Muñoz said although the first half of the speech was Latino-centric, but it was directed to people of all races, who are not Native American, because the U.S. is a nation founded by immigrants.

"It was really unfortunate that people couldn’t see past what she was saying and that she was not just talking to Latinos," Muñoz said. "People thought she was being non-inclusive, but she was touching on her experience on working with immigrants, and how all people here are immigrants."

When Salinas, an anchor that Muñoz has looked up to as a role model, began to speak Spanish, some students and parents shouted, "Speak English." Muñoz said the racial tension was incredibly uncomfortable and angering, and that the Spanish portion was "very short," and only a "few inspirational words."

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