Editorial: Graduation no longer about graduates

After last week’s announcement  that Gov. Chris Christie will be this year’s keynote speaker at undergraduate commencement, Rowan President Dr. Ali Houshmand acknowledged the possibility of protests.

“This is a day of celebration — more than 2,500 students will be graduating — and we hope everyone realizes that,” Houshmand said in a conference call on April 9.

He’s right. The graduation ceremony on May 16 should be about the students who have put in years of hard work and dedication to their studies.

However, Houshmand’s decision to make Christie the keynote speaker has had the opposite effect. Between an SGA senate proposal to remove the governor as speaker, a petition to do the same on change.org, and the dozens of tweets, comments and Facebook posts arguing for or against the decision, one thing is clear: this year’s graduation is no longer about the graduates.

In an effort to raise the status of this university and, once again, make the news, Rowan is giving a microphone to Christie, who is a controversial figure at the moment. There are still questions surrounding the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge for alleged political payback, as well as a federal investigation  into whether the governor misused funds for Superstorm Sandy relief.

There will be a lot of media coverage for this year’s undergraduate commencement ceremony, but the headlines will likely not be about the 2,500 students entering the real world. It will be about Chris Christie, and Rowan University.

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