Saturday, May 11, 2013

Advice to Seniors regarding their graduation speaker

Every time I dip my toe into political posts around here, it sets off a debate in the comments section and I take my fair share of criticism. But this controversy over Cardinal O'Malley's boycott of next week's commencement sparked me to write my occasional advice to current students post. Take it all for what it is worth.

Dear current students:

If you care one way or the other about your commencement speaker, something is wrong. The only people you should care about attending your graduation are friends and family. Any other person you don't know -- whether they be famous and powerful or a nobody -- doesn't matter. What you should care about is getting through Senior Week in one piece, getting up Graduation morning and getting your cap and gown on. Getting across the stage and not making an ass out of your self in front of your parents and family is probably a good goal. They want to be proud and don't want to know what happened during Senior Week. Smile for their pictures. Give them plenty of thanks and let them know you appreciate all they have done to get you across that stage.

I am thankful that most BC students and family couldn't pick Edna Kenny out of a line up and would not recognize Cardinal O'Malley out of his robes. This day is not really about them. There will be plenty of time in your future to be political and take sides on important issues. This is not one of them. Just enjoy your graduation. Odds are it will be lousy weather (either really hot or really rainy) and you would want any speaker to keep his or her speech short. The only thing more rare than perfect weather on a BC Graduation Day is a BC commencement speaker who hits a home run with his or her speech. Most are forgettable. But Graduation Day itself is not forgettable.

Senior Week lives up to the hype, so you'll probably be exhausted by Graduation. Have fun, make memories and let Graduation be about friends, families and accomplishments, not politics.

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19 Comments:

At 11:53 PM, Blogger Coast said...

A good friend of mine attended Notre Dame and his commencement speaker was President Obama. As soon as his selection was official, activists from every corner descended upon the campus-- during FINALS WEEK-- and turned the school into a carnival. Alan Keyes and a number of other people pushed strollers up and down campus with dolls covered in fake blood. Someone flew a banner of a dead fetus over campus. Another person drove a van around town with shrink-wrap displaying a dead fetus. My only hope is that BC prevents such distractions from reaching campus. Let this event be for the seniors.

 
At 12:09 AM, Blogger Dan said...

I would like to say, Tim Russert's speech in '04 was pretty bad ass.

 
At 7:36 AM, Blogger blist said...

Maybe if the Catholic church wanted to hold full sway over the Irish as they used to, they shouldn't have let priests abuse kids for decades. Just saying, as an Irish-Catholic, O'Malley's actions are tiresome.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger JD said...

Russert was fantastic. He genuinely engaged the entire audience with colorful anectodes and consumable life lessons.As ATL mentioned, that weekend fit into the bad weather on commencement with a fair amount of rain

 
At 9:15 AM, Blogger eaglephile said...

David McCollough in 08 was also awesome. By contrast with my year, Condi Rice caused a ruckus on campus and gave a less than memorable speech.

Congrats to the class of 2013!

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger Alex L. said...

Is it "speeker" or "speaker"?

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger JBQ said...

@Dan and @JD: It is nice to know of the legacy left on campus by Tim Russert. He had a son graduate from BC and passed on suddenly soon after. He was making a moral ripple in the pond of the media. Then, he was gone. God bless him.

 
At 10:09 AM, Blogger bceagle91 said...

The speech is about 10 to 15 minutes. Don't let commencement be defined by that. Let it be defined by having family and friends around you as you get your degree.

 
At 11:32 AM, Blogger perkindc said...

No idea who gave the commencement speech at my graduation. It might've been another Irish pol. No idea what he was yapping about either...

 
At 2:02 PM, Blogger mod10aeagle said...

I think this attitude towards commencement speakers is pathetic, and I would like to think that it's beneath BC graduates to simply dismiss it as circus. Sure, not all speeches are memorable, but many are and all have the potential to instruct, inform, and provoke. Fr. O'Malley has been in the middle of a tumultuous period in the Catholic Church in America and is just back from helping to select the new pope. Why would you advise BC graduates to "just get through it" rather than listen actively? Pathetic.

 
At 2:23 PM, Blogger Big Jack Krack said...

I just returned from 2 weeks in Ireland. There is much debate about this topic and Edna Kenny is not pro-abortion by any stretch of the imagination. As a public official he is supporting a measure that concerns extreme cases (when the baby can't be saved but the mother's life might be.)

Not all Irish citizens are Roman Catholic and this is a civilian measure. I think Cardinal O'Malley is missing an opportunity to add to the conversation - my $.02.

I think the graduating seniors should pay attention just in case.

On another note, I stayed at the Ritz Catlton PowersCourt in Wicklow my last 4 days (many Marriott Rewards points from all my travels, etc).

This is a top-rated destination - rightly so and very picturesque. I mentioned that I might return in two years when BC - ND might take place.

I was told that ND sold out the entire hotel for the Navy game this past September - including the team and the band.

I must admit that ND goes first class - and that's what we are competing against. Meet us there in 2 years, graduating seniors!

Go BC.

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger Brett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2:52 PM, Blogger Brett said...

I would agree with ATL about the purpose and focus of graduation, and I think it makes an excellent argument for why BC should not have invited a controversial candidate. I had David McCullough in '08. My mom was happy because she had just finished "1776". He gave some humorous observations about growing up and some great advice (don't take yourself too seriously). I didn't expect to be moved by the whole day, but I was really proud - I really surprised myself.

If BC were to invite a speaker who was in some way at odds with the thinking of the Church, it would bring up the enduring (and often unanswerable) question - what does my university stand for anymore?

Instead, the day was about celebrating an accomplishment and about gratitude toward my parents for providing the opportunity. I think that to propose that generating this atmosphere is a responsibility of the student, irregardless of the chosen speaker, is to ask us to somehow shut off our awareness of reality.

 
At 5:00 PM, Blogger ATL_eagle said...

Alex L:

thanks for the catch on the typo.

 
At 6:11 PM, Blogger eagleboston said...

Interestingly, my commencement speaker was too ill with cancer to make it to campus, so we had a back-up speaker. He had recently written a book about hunger in America and spoke of poverty and our need to address it in such a wealthy country. He did a great job as a fill-in and I was off to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Philly, where I witnessed first hand the poverty he discussed.

I also remember that BC put out a program with the name of every graduate with special notations for academic achievement. My Mod-mate, a proverbial B- student, was incorrectly listed as Magna Cum Laude. I was literally in tears as his proud parents and grandparents were congratulating him and taking photos. Only he could be so lucky.

By the way, it was a perfectly sunny, 80-degree day in Boston.

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Shawn A said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4:53 PM, Blogger Shawn A said...

Graduates of BC should know who Cardinal O'Malley is. He's been involved in the outreach following the Marathon bombings and is an active participant in the Boston community at large. It would not paint a flattering portrait of BC's engagement with the city if most graduates do not know who he is. They should also pay at least some attention to the commencement speaker and know something about Kenny's bio. Senior Week is a complete, exhausting blast but the graduation ceremony is a serious event and it is worthy of the graduates' attention. The ceremony where Kenny will speak is not painfully long. It seems remarkably antisocial to suggest hat the graduates should bury their heads in the sand and ignore the speaker and whatever wisdom he may have to offer.

The enjoyment of that week with friends and that day with family is paramount but there's room to derive some edification from the commencement address too.

 
At 2:13 PM, Blogger Bravesbill said...

One of the jobs of the commencement speaker is to impart wisdom upon the graduating class. Having a speaker that is antithetical to your Catholic principles seems hardly like an appropriate choice to pass on this wisdom. Also, these speakers are also honored by BC with some sort of honorary degree. Again, do we want to be honoring someone who goes against your principles? Absolutely not. Your letter ATL basically identifies everything that is wrong with this generation: namely political apathy. It's time for these students to get active, not bury their heads in the sand.

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

My commencement speaker (in '02) was supposed to be Cardinal Law. He was quietly un-invited from attending after his role in the child-abuse scandal became apparent. That was a pretty big deal, and worth knowing about. This week's controversy is just as important to those with strong beliefs about abortion rights.

 

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