Thin-skinned graduates [Letter]

June 06, 2014

Protesting campus graduation speakers that some students or faculty reject, often on specious grounds, denigrates having distinguished scholars share their ideas with graduating students ("Commencement speakers fair game for protest," June 1).

As Stevenson University philosopher A. Hooke correctly points out, in recent years a spate of thin but angry objections has resulted in more and more distinguished individuals being dis-invited from commencement ceremonies.

Critics claim that students can't "talk back" at commencement speeches and hence might be forced to hear things they reject. It is also said that since speakers are often paid and honored this too can be offensive to some. Last, it is said that a solution is to ask a faculty member to speak instead of an outsider.

I trust unintentionally, the defender of rejecting invited speakers could not be more insulting to students and confused about academic discourse if he were a PR person for some right-wing think tank. Students, faculty will have many occasions to listen to others with whom they may disagree. The task is to know how to glean wisdom where possible, not turn every lecture into an ego trip by being offended.

H. L. Goldstein, Towson

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