OUR VIEW: The University should have commencement speakers

OUR+VIEW%3A+The+University+should+have+commencement+speakers

CW / Kylie Cowden

CW Editorial Board

The University of Alabama has once again outdone Harvard. With four Goldwater Scholars selected this year, we have maintained our dominance in the prestigious scholarship program for students in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. This Editorial Board would like to recognize and congratulate Melissa Matthews, Alison Farrar, Melissa Uehling and Sean Devey for keeping us on top. Yet, as over 5,000 students at the University prepare to graduate next week, we have to contend with the fact that Harvard students will be receiving their commencement address from Mark Zuckerberg.

High school graduations are personal. Even at the largest American high schools, most graduating students have known most of their classmates for most of their lives. The principal speaks, the choir sings the alma mater and graduates’ emotional relatives yell wildly, even when instructed to wait for the completion of the commencement ceremonies to applaud. Students walk across the stage surrounded by the communities they’ve grown up in on what is, for most of them, the most important day of their lives to that point.

Nearly every student at The University of Alabama has had this experience, but many of us never will again. Many students choose not to walk in graduation ceremonies at all, seeing the exercise that should be viewed as a reward for years of hard work as a waste of time. We don’t blame them. Many students’ families cannot make the trip across the country to Tuscaloosa as they could across town to their last graduation. Although we’re all a part of the UA community, nearly every student who walks across the stage when we do will be a stranger. And President Bell, no matter how many Late Night Lakeside appearances he makes, will never be as familiar to the student body as our high school principals were; it simply isn’t possible with the size of our classes. The University of Alabama commencement needs a real draw – a real reason for students to feel that their efforts are being recognized. It needs a prominent 
commencement speaker.

Several members of this Editorial Board are graduating next week. All of us, like most students, have nearly pulled our hair out in the library at 4 a.m. because we didn’t realize until the night before that the final was cumulative. All of us have resented the professor who assigns a 15-page paper the week of the Iron Bowl, and all of us have reluctantly left victory celebrations early because we couldn’t get tickets for next season if we failed out of college. All of us have, even if not often enough, stopped to take a look around the Quad and realize just how beautiful this campus is, and all of us have put in countless hours of work to earn our degrees. Every student who makes it through four (and sometimes more) years at this University deserves to feel that our administration values us

We know commencement speakers are expensive, and it takes up a lot of time in an already lengthy ceremony, but when it comes to commemorating what is one of the biggest investments of both time and money in a college graduate’s life, it’s a small but worthy concession.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White Editorial Board.