[Keith Whittington] The Commencement Speaker Shuffle

We have entered graduation season. A time for celebration and nostalgia, a time of pomp and ceremony. Graduation season has also become known as a time of protests and disinvitations. Every year colleges and universities try to find speakers to address their gathered graduates and their families. It is hoped that those speakers will add a bit of luster to the ceremony and provides some words of wisdom and inspiration. Selecting a suitable speaker has become something of a minefield for university leaders. Students have embraced commencement as one last opportunity to cow their elders and demonstrate their moral sensibilities. Students who are unhappy with the commencement speaker who has agreed to visit campus have threatened protests and walk-outs, launched petition campaign and sit-ins, and demanded that troublesome speakers be sent packing. Some portion of the invitations sent out to esteemed public figures asking them to grace the stage of a university graduation ceremony…

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