Students and alumni of Bethune-Cookman University in Florida are protesting the school's invitation to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to speak at the historically black university.
They are also upset that the school seemingly compared her to the school's founder, civil rights activist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.
"Secretary DeVos deems the importance of opportunity and hope for students to receive an exceptional education experience," the school said in a statement. "Her mission to empower parents and students resonates with the history and legacy of Dr. Bethune."
The announcement sparked outrage among the university's students and alumni who feel DeVos' comparison to Bethune is an affront to her legacy. A petition, launched on change.org, calls on the university to rescind its invitation for DeVos to speak at the school's commencement later this month and instead offer to hold a "meaningful dialogue" with students about the administration's education policies and the importance of HBCU's.
"Having DeVos speak at the commencement ceremony is an insult to the BCU graduating class, students, alumni, family, friends, and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune's legacy. We, the proud alumni of Bethune-Cookman University, do not want Betsy DeVos to have a seat at our table. Please rescind her invitation to speak at the graduation ceremony," the petition, which has garnered over 4,000 signatures reads.
DeVos has faced criticism for calling HBCU's "real pioneers when it comes to school choice," following a February meeting between President Trump and the presidents of HBCU's.
The university has since responded to the petition saying "there are similarities in everyone" and that "we must find common ground amongst each other."