Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker's commencement speech draws mixed reactions from graduates

We wanted to see how students of Benedictine College responded to what they heard from Butker.
Benedictine College Students
Posted at 11:17 AM, May 17, 2024

Reactions are pouring in after Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker delivered a commencement speech Sunday at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

Some parts of his speech discussed human rights and women's rights.

"Things like abortion, IVF, surrogacy, euthanasia, as well as a growing support for degenerate cultural values and media, all stem from the pervasiveness of disorder," Butker said about a minute into his speech.

Kansas City Chiefs place kicker Harrison Butker.

U.S. News

NFL distances itself from controversial comments by Chiefs' Harrison Butker

Scripps News Staff
12:45 PM, May 16, 2024

We wanted to see how Benedictine students responded to what they heard from Butker.

"You could see in the video, if you were to see it, the majority of people stood at the end," Allison, one of the college's newest graduates, said. "I didn't feel like he was threatening me as a woman or making me any less of a woman."

The speech included this take on women, careers, marriage and children:

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker speaks to the media during NFL football Super Bowl 58 opening night.

U.S. News

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker says most women are more excited about motherhood

AP via Scripps News
10:11 PM, May 15, 2024

"How many of you are sitting here now, about to cross this stage, and are thinking about all the promotions and titles you’re going to get in your career?" Butker said about 12 minutes into his speech. "Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world."

Allison said she and her friends felt mostly support from their fellow classmates.

"I think you have to say, yeah, maybe that isn't everything exactly the way I would've said it, but I respect that that is what you believe in," Antonia, another Benedictine College student, said.

Butker also talked about meeting his wife and how her life has played out.

"... The girl I met in band class back in middle school would convert to the faith, become my wife and embrace one of the most important titles of all: homemaker," Butker said almost 13 minutes into his speech.

Lauren Conaway is with InnovateHER, a Kansas City group that supports and empowers women leaders.

"The fact that they've been kind of put into these boxes, that's very scary for me, because when you tell people things about themselves enough, they tend to believe it," Conaway said. "And so it's really difficult to break free of social expectations."

Conaway said she hopes students are mindful of all possibilities.

"For many of them, I would imagine motherhood probably isn't really top of mind, particularly in that moment, when that piece of paper, that diploma, is representative of possibility, many possibilities, not just one," Conaway said.

And students said they're mindful of their own life paths.

"This is a reality he lives with every day and he sees value in that, and that is truth," Antonia said. "Whether or not that is my truth, that is true, and it could look different for the rest of us."

This story was originally published by Elyse Schoenig at Scripps News Kansas City.