Wanted: Undergraduate Commencement Speaker (Editorial)

By Emily Rovner, Opinion Editor

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Photo Courtesy of Mike Peters

It would not be graduation if Montclair State University did not give the Class of 2017 one final disappointment.

In past years, Montclair State would wait until the eleventh hour to reveal a less than satisfactory speaker, but at this point, there is no commencement speaker or honorary degree recipient to announce after former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz canceled. This predicament has left the administration scrambling to come up with a somewhat acceptable solution.

The spring undergraduate commencement ceremony is the largest and most anticipated event of the entire year at Montclair State, yet the important day is beginning to look like an uncoordinated mess. All this chaos has, once again, confirmed that students are not the priority.

Instead of taking the necessary precautions to ensure students have a memorable send-off, Montclair State has failed to create a back-up plan. In this instance, their inability to anticipate problems demonstrates a lack of regard for the graduating students and their academic achievements. With graduation a mere month away and no back-up plan in sight, Montclair State’s Class of 2017 will likely be the first graduating class at the university to not have a commencement speaker.

Although the school administration blames Cruz’s release from the Giants for schedule changes, it seems ridiculous that he is unable to accommodate a three-hour ceremony for young graduates of his home state.

Yet, Cruz is not entirely to blame. Montclair State clearly needs to choose individuals who are committed to the students of Montclair State, not just ones who have money burning a hole in their pockets. The administration needs to see commencement speakers as more than dollars and cents. After heart-felt advice, commencement speakers send accomplished students out into the real world. Montclair States needs to reflect on who they give that honor to. It is a moment graduates and their families will remember for the rest of their lives and, at this point, the Class of 2017 won’t have that due to the administration’s obsession with the donating potential of commencement speakers.

It is incredibly dispiriting to see Montclair State University struggle to find a commencement speaker, when just last year Rutgers University, another public university, spent nearly $1.43 million to host President Obama as the commencement speaker, according to NJ.com. This was not a one-off occurrence. Year after year, Rutgers University has better commencement speakers. Montclair State students are forced to look on longingly as their friends graduate to the encouraging words of Bill Nye or Jon Bon Jovi.

Granted, Montclair States is not expecting the President of the United States. However, they simply want someone who they do not have to Google. At this rate, the Class of 2017 will end up with an empty search box.

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