Another Commencement Speaker Down, Hundreds To Go

Smith College is the latest in a string of universities to scramble for a replacement commencement speaker after IMF director Christine Lagarde succumbed to pressure to back down:

Christine Lagarde, first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has withdrawn from the Smith College 2014 graduation where she was slated to be the commencement speaker after students and faculty began protesting her inclusion in the ceremony. … Lagarde is one of many commencement speakers to get the boot in the past year. Recently, Condoleeza Rice canceled her Rutgers University commencement address after students protested her presence due to her involvement in the Iraq war and Brandeis University reneged on plans to award an honorary degree to women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsa Ali because of her controversial and negative stance on Islam.

This plague of, as Slate puts it, “elite college students protesting elite commencement speakers,” is not only toppling right-leaning ladies. Former chancellor of UC Berkeley Robert Birgeneau was slated to speak at Haverford before he withdrew.

Do you even remember your Commencement speaker? Did you feel entitled to have one you agreed with? Mine was the relatively low-profile but intelligent author of The Paradox of Choice and he gave a remarkably useful address about how we should make decisions over the rest of our lives. At my brothers’ various graduations, I’ve gotten to hear from Ted Kennedy (RIP) and James Carville. As much fun as those events were, neither man left me with anything I remembered the next day. I’m thrilled that when I wearing a cap and gown I got life advice from someone worth listening to.

photo via US Army

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