The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Viewpoint – Graduation speaker should have student vote

jamil oakford/se news editor

Commencement speakers have one of the biggest tasks at a graduation ceremony. Their job is to stare into a sea of young professional hopefuls about to graduate and empower them.

A good commencement speaker can both empower and squash any trepidation a graduate may have about venturing off into the professional world.

It’s for this reason that those put in charge to coordinate the event have to choose carefully who to invite to give the commencement speech.

But the fact that students are given little to no say in who comes to speak at their graduation is a bit unfair.

According to a change.org article, St. Norbert College invited Cardinal Francis George to speak at the class of 2012’s graduation. Students were outraged to hear this, especially since he compared the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community to the KKK.

It wasn’t just a cry from LGBT students to reject him, bur many students around campus, citing one of the core ideals at the college holds dear: communio, or community, where students are encouraged to respect and trust others.

But even the University of California at Berkeley, where a panel of undergraduate students decide the speaker, couldn’t escape backlash for inviting comedian and TV host Bill Maher in August.

Most of the backlash created by the news of Maher being chosen was about his controversial statements on religion and specifically Islam.

While the student panel decided to disinvite him Oct. 28, the university overruled it and kept him, stating that the school won’t disinvite him just because he’s controversial.

Having such a small population of students decide something like a commencement speaker for a graduating class of roughly 10,000 people hardly seems representative.

Graduating students should have the opportunity to put in at least a few suggestions. Sure, not every school has the ability to pay for Neil deGrasse Tyson or Matthew McConaughey to come speak.

But out of a graduating class of more than 500, surely the university or college can find a handful that they can invite without breaking the bank and one that can inspire a gathering of young people as they disembark their academic journey and begin a new chapter.

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