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The son of a Steelworker is leading a Murray, Kentucky, State University student protest against the choice of Sen. Mitch McConnell as the school’s commencement speaker.

mitch mcconnell

“We aren’t quibbling with the university’s right to invite Sen. McConnell,” said Devin Griggs, 22. “We just question why he was invited.”

Graduation ceremonies will be May 11.

Griggs, from Benton, Kentucky, is the son of Cliff Griggs, a member of United Steelworkers Local 9447.

“Sen. McConnell votes against education every chance he gets,” Griggs said. “He voted against federal aid to states that would have kept teachers and aides employed. He voted against extending low interest rates for federal student loans.

“He voted against Pell Grants. He also supports vouchers, which hurt public schools.”

Griggs is opinion editor at the Murray State News, the campus paper and he is running for president of the College Democrats. “But our protest is not connected to the newspaper or confined to the College Democrats,” he said. “This is an independent, grassroots effort and we’re getting a lot of support campus-wide and from alumni.”

Even so, Griggs couldn’t resist chiming in about the Bluegrass State’s senior senator in his weekly column: “When I found out that Mitch McConnell would be giving Murray State ’s commencement address, I nearly crashed. And I mean that literally, because I was driving when I got a text message informing me…Mitch McConnell headlining Murray State’s graduation might be less egregious if he hadn’t made his entire political career flipping students the bird.”

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The protestors have opened a Facebook page, and are circulating an online petition\.

“We got more than 200 ‘likes’ from all over in the first two days our Facebook page was up,” Griggs said.

The protest is also getting a boost from Hillbilly Report, a popular Bluegrass State political blog.

Griggs, a political science major, earned the Kentucky State AFL-CIO’s Youth Award in 2011. He expects to graduate in December and hopes to work for a union.

Berry Craig

“If Sen. McConnell does end up speaking, at least I won’t have to listen to him,” Griggs said.

More information about the protest is available from Griggs. He can be reached by phone at 270.493.2746 or by email at

Berry Craig

Friday, 19 April 2013