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Students & Faculty May Boycott Tech Graduation

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Some Montana Tech students and staff are upset with school administration for choosing Greg and Susan Gianforte to be this year's commencement speakers.

In fact, talks of boycotting the graduation are in place and some are even considering hosting a separate grad ceremony.

The couple are the founders of "Code Montana", a computer science program for high school students aimed at increasing interest in computer science degrees.

"We had about 8 to 10 computer science, first time freshmen applicants over the last three years," said Montana Tech Chancellor Don Blackketter. "Through this Code Montana, we have over 40 applicants. We've increased our freshman number of applicants by about four-fold."

Along with greatly helping tech's computer science department, Gianforte is a software engineer and founder of RightNow Technologies, which sold to oracle for more than a billion dollars.

While successful in the business world, the Gianforte's have also publicly made comments about not supporting the LGBT community and anti-evolution views.

"The fact that they're adamant young Earth creationists coming to a school with a very strong biology and a very strong geology department, it just seems to stand in the very defiance of what they're trying to teach up at Tech," said Caleb Hill, a Montana Tech student.

Now, some students and faculty are discussing boycotting the graduation, and even hosting their own ceremony.

That includes Professor Pat Munday, who has missed just two ceremonies in the last 25 years.

"I believe faculty should attend every graduation," Munday said. "It's the way we honor our students. But I can't go to this one, and I would go to an alternative one."

Despite the backlash, Chancellor Blackketter says the speech will focus on the graduates future.

"They're going to tell their stories, and gives some advice on how students can be successful, and can persevere and have careers in areas that they choose," Blackketter said.

Contrary to other news reports, Chancellor Blackketter says Montana Tech has never received monetary funds or donations from the Gianfortes.

The graduation ceremony is set for Saturday May 17.

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