Mere Disagreements No Excuse to Dump Graduation Speakers

May 17, 2014

At The Boston Globe

The Poet Robert Frost once called college “a refuge from hasty judgment.” What it’s not is a refuge from all contrary opinions. This year, there’s been a disturbing pattern of commencement speakers bowing out under pressure from students and faculty who simply dislike their views. Christine Lagarde, the first woman to head the International Monetary Fund, was supposed to speak at Smith College, but nearly 500 people signed an online petition asserting that the IMF is a “primary culprit” in pushing “imperialist and patriarchal systems that oppress and abuse women worldwide.” Lagarde pulled out earlier this week, as she put it in a statement, “to preserve the celebratory spirit of commencement day.” Also this week, Robert Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California Berkeley, declined his commencement address invitation at Haverford College outside Philadelphia after some students and faculty condemned his handling of campus protests in 2011...

Cases: Nationwide: Colleges Across the Country Disinvite Commencement Speakers