The University has once again made the decision to have student speakers at Commencement instead of a featured guest keynote speaker.
In the past, the University has featured speakers such as N.J. Gov. Chris Christie in 2011, executive director of Raise Hope Foundation Scott Chesney in 2012 and Professor of Jurisprudence and American Institutions Hadley P. Arkes of Amherst College in 2013.
The last featured keynote speaker at Commencement was Mary Eberstadt in 2014, an author and senior fellow at a conservative think tank in Washington D.C. Following her selection, some community members expressed concern over her beliefs.
According to the University, student speakers are more “meaningful” and there has been positive feedback from the change. This is just not the case. A second year in the row without a keynote speaker displays carelessness on the part of the University. A speech by an experienced guest with advice for
the soon-to-be alums of the class of 2016 would add more meaning to graduation.
Student speakers are meaningful to their peers and families, but how can just a couple of students represent an entire grade? Everyone has a story, and although we’re leaving Seton Hall with different diplomas, GPAs and experiences,we have all had our own journeys. It is impossible to determine if one or two students are more important than 1,000 others.
The best solution would be to have a guest speaker. An experienced keynote speaker knows what’s on the other side and therefore has more to offer graduating seniors. Commencement speakers throughout history have warned, guided and encouraged students to go forth into adulthood and seize the future. Without a speaker, students will listen to peers who are basically in the exact same boat as
The graduating seniors have worked hard for four years leading up to this ceremony. When they finally step on stage to get their diplomas and turn their tassels, they deserve a ceremony that reflects a similar effort. The least the University can do after countless hours of studying and thousands of tuition dollars is provide a speaker, anyone, even as a symbolic ceremonial gesture to the students. The absence of a speaker is carelessly lazy, and the class of 2016 deserves better.