Wash U Activists Urge Jennifer Coolidge to Skip Commencement

“It’s giving Hunger Games and is not a good look,” they say, referencing last week’s mass arrests

May 7, 2024 at 2:45 pm
Actress Jennifer Coolidge was Washington University's pick for its commencement speaker this year.
Actress Jennifer Coolidge was Washington University's pick for its commencement speaker this year. SHUTTERSTOCK

Student organizers are urging actress Jennifer Coolidge to skip Washington University’s commencement ceremony in protest of how the university responded to Pro-Palestine protests on campus. 

Coolidge was selected by the university to be the keynote speaker at graduation on Monday. Now, activists with Resist Wash U and the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee have published a video montage on social media pleading with her to boycott the ceremony. 

The Instagram video shows scenes from the April 27 protest at Wash U where police violently arrested over 100 peaceful protestors, including a 65-year-old Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Professor whose ribs and finger were broken after multiple police officers tackled him.

“Wash U’s marketing team can’t seem to whitewash the viral videos of its violent suppression and is bracing for lawsuits,” the caption says. 

Between scenes of police brutality at the protest, Coolidge’s face swirls against a pink background.

“Jennifer, this is what you’re profiting off of,” the video says between scenes of protestors and professors being dragged away from the student encampment and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein being hit with a bike. “You’re better than this.” It ends on a photo of Coolidge making her signature duck face, reiterating the call for her to skip commencement with the hashtag “no pride in genocide.”

“Hundreds of faculty students and alumni have sent letters condemning the administration and asking, isn’t it easier to just stop supporting genocide?” the caption says. “Is this the heinous vibe you want to speak to @jennifercoolidge? It’s giving Hunger Games and it’s not a good look.”

Pro-Palestine activists at Wash U have called on the university to disclose its investments and ties with Boeing, and to divest from the corporation, which they point out manufactures weapons used in Israel’s brutal and ongoing assault of Gaza.

Coolidge did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did Wash U.

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