Being selected to speak at commencement is an incredibly high honor.
Parting your message on your graduating class at its last Bradley event as students must be a rather powerful feeling, and selecting the student who will be given that honor is a serious task.
It’s also a task that, for the first time in decades, has become a closed process. Whereas any student could nominate him or herself before, the process is now in the hands of the administrators.
Beginning this year, students had to be nominated by student affairs executive directors to be considered to speak. In the past, any graduating student was able to drop a copy of their speech off, and all speeches were considered.
Alan Galsky, vice president for student affairs, said last week that the student commencement speaker is an honorable position and has to be treated like any other award that is given to students.
He’s right in that it’s an honorable position, but he couldn’t be any more incorrect in the way that honor is being handed down.
Speaking at graduation isn’t an award. It’s proof that you had the best speech, that you had the most fitting things to say about Bradley and proof you could connect with students.
It’s not that we’re worried this year’s nominees are preparing poor speeches, but how are we to know other students’ potential speeches wouldn’t be better?
What’s most appalling to us is that the administration seems to think it knows best which student should be asked to audition to speak.
It also seems to have been done in an alarmingly quiet way. Most seniors weren’t aware of the change so they didn’t have an opportunity to voice their opinions before the change was implemented.
Now, worthy people have been shut out of the process and left empty-handed.
An article in last week’s Scout quoted senior English major Ben Koch, who isn’t happy with the change in application procedure.
For those who may not know, Koch is a rather involved student.
He’s the former student body vice president and an assistant residence hall director. He’s in a social fraternity, been an orientation leader and is a successful student.
So if someone as involved as Koch wasn’t nominated, who else on campus wasn’t?
What about the students who had to work full time to get through school so they couldn’t get involved on campus, and, thus, never got to know any of the executive directors? Or the ones who had families? Or the ones that may have stepped on administrators’ toes and became disliked?
What about the ones who may have been simply overlooked because the selection committee is small?
Those students have been eliminated from the process, and that’s wrong.
Graduation is about students. It’s about their accomplishments and their mistakes. It’s about their moving from these hallowed halls to the real world.
To prevent even a single student from being able to participate in that is an egregious move that administrators must fix.
Not next year, but this year.
We urge the administration to open the process back up to the entire class of 2010.