Avoiding controversy at Commencement
The selection of Julian Bond as the 2008 Commencement speaker reflects the increasingly mobilized nature of the young generation today. This phenomenon happens when national and international circumstances have not gone according to plan (assuming there is one), resulting in the eschewing of tradition that defined the movements of the sixties and seventies.
The recent backlash against the Republican Party that has become so prevalent is reflected by the choice of a man who has made comments that alienate a large portion of the population of our school and nation. While the keynote address is for the students, I have a hard time believing that remarks similar to those made by Bond in the past would be well-received by parents and other members of older generations that will also be attending graduation.
I am not looking for a politically bland speech that offends no one. I want the speaker to be provocative, fresh and educational. But I do not want a controversial and divisive speech to mar what is supposed to be a celebration as well as a time to look forward to being an active member of the world beyond college. I hope that Bond keeps this in mind when preparing for his speech in May.
Thayer Mullins, Senior
Speaking up for Bond
The GW College Democrats find it truly telling that this is the moment the College Republicans have chosen to raise their voice in protest. For the same CRs who have not said a word about elected Republicans that have degraded public discourse by referring to Sen. Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) middle name in order to question his patriotism and religion, have declared as “unfortunate” the University’s choice for Commencement speaker, civil rights leader and American statesman, Julian Bond. Apparently, the only kind of “hatred” that bothers the CRs is that which is directed toward their party.
First, let us firmly state the position of our organization: We do not, and will not ever, consider a few blunt quotes sufficient to outweigh the lifetime of service Bond has given to his country and to the American people. We are proud that our University will be giving Bond an honorary degree and our graduating seniors believe Bond’s consistent stand for justice is at the very heart of what their time here at GW has taught them and what they will take out into the world.
Bond is a distinguished civil rights leader, and the right wing objects to him because he is not afraid to tell the truth about them. While his words may at times be sensational, the underlying premises of his statements are understandable. Even Ken Mehlman, former chairman of the Republican National Committee, admitted in a 2005 address to the NAACP convention that the Republican Party has ignored and even worked to disenfranchise blacks and “benefit politically from racial polarization.” It is indisputable that the modern Republican Party is a far, far cry from that of Abraham Lincoln. We would hope that the CRs would be able to forgive Bond for taking the GOP’s use of race as a political football somewhat personally.
So while the GW CRs moan and groan about a civil rights leader that had some blunt statements following President George Bush’s multiple refusals to speak at the NAACP convention, the GW College Democrats will continue to speak out on issues of real importance: health care, ending the war in Iraq, civil rights and creating a twenty-first century energy policy.
We are hopeful that the GW CR’s priorities are in line with those of the RNC and John McCain this November. The American people, we believe, are tired of trivial potshots at our nation’s finest, and look forward to finally getting back to the work of the American people in January of 2009.
The GW College Democrats Executive Board
Another disappointing Spring Fling act
Another year, another weak choice for Spring Fling. I continue to be baffled by the fact that we pay $50,000 a year and cannot afford a better act than this year’s one-hit-wonder Gym Class Heroes. I know it is a free concert and we shouldn’t really complain, but we need to look around the country to understand that some colleges do it better. Tufts University last year had T.I., Spoon and Lupe Fiasco – three different acts for everyone’s taste, all for free. Gym Class Heroes appeals to very few. We either need to find smarter people to choose artists that appeal to more people or give more money to these concerts so we can get a bigger and better act. Last year we had Regina Spektor. This year we have Gym Class Heroes. What do both years have in common? I didn’t attend last year and I don’t plan on attending this year.
Micah Lubens, Sophomore