Real reason why a US university president refused an Arab grad’s handshake

The video shows UNH President wagging his finger in rejection at a GCC student when he had offered to shake his hands. (via UNH)

Social media in Saudi Arabia has been abuzz because of a video showing University of New Haven’s president refusing a Muslim student’s handshake during a commencement ceremony.

The video shows UNH President wagging his finger in rejection at a student – reportedly from one of the GCC countries – when he had offered to shake his hands.

The university was quick to respond on its official Twitter account that Kaplan did not mean any offense as it was agreed that the he would not shake students' hands during the ceremony to avoid the spread of any disease.

“President Kaplan did not shake hands with any of the nearly 300 graduates during the University’s commencement ceremony on Sunday. As was announced just before reading of the names, President Kaplan was advised by University health officials not to shake hands with any graduates so as to prevent the spread of upper respiratory infections, which are on the rise in Connecticut,” the statement read.

The university tweeted the statement to most of those who asked for a reasoning explaining the rejection of the handshake.

Kaplan indeed gave remarks just before taking photos with each graduate explaining that he would not be able to offer his “customary handshake with students as our health science department that there has been an increase in upper respiratory infections and I’ve been asked not shake hands”.

He then offered to either pat students on the back or offer a fist-bump instead.

A video of the entire ceremony was posted on UNH’s website which showed for the exception of at least two graduates whom Kaplan fist-bumped, no graduates offered their hands and recognized the remarks made earlier.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53