Guest post by Jake
With a saddened heart, I read horrible news earlier this week. Apparently, the youth is not clamoring for Obama as much as they were in 2008. Putting a fine point on this, I was informed that it was partly young WHITE youth with the change of heart, once again proving inherent racism all Caucasians hold near and dear. It is important to note that the Obama for America did respond to the story, asking, “then why did the summer organizing positions receive the most applications ever, even more interest than in 2008?” And of course the cynical (and factual) response would be: are you a youth right now looking for a job in the Obama economy? There’s really no other jobs a young one can get besides working on the Obama campaign. And of course, like the hostage digging his own grave, the young Obama for America campaign worker will be hard at work this summer ensuring his prolonged absence from the future job market.
That’s all well and good, but what is the mindset of Ohio youth at this time? I decided to look to the heart of Ohio, The Ohio State University. As a disclaimer, I applied to go to Ohio State for graduate school, but in the end I decided not to go there. And when I say “decided not to go there,” I mean that Ohio State sent me a rejection letter and I decided to abide by the school’s request.
Just this week, I read that the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, will be giving the commencement address at Ohio State’s Spring Graduation Ceremony. That’s a heck of an opportunity for the students, seeing as how Speaker Boehner is the first Speaker from the Great State of Ohio since the early 1930s. An inspirational man with an inspirational story, living proof that a kid from Ohio can grow up, work hard, and become one of the leaders of this country. Wanting to get an “on the ground” report of the pulse of the University, I tweeted my youngest sister, a sophomore at Ohio State, and asked her what she thought about having the Speaker of the House giving the commencement address. Her response? “I’m not quite sure who the Speaker of the House even is.” As I contemplated asking my mother about my birth family, my sister sent me another tweet, hopefully making up for her lack of knowledge about very basic current events. This time: “Well the girl I’m working with and I had agreed that Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House…”
I decided that my youngest sister probably had more important things to do, like remembering to breathe in after breathing out (j/k sis), and so I did some Internet searching instead. As it turns out, the selection of the Speaker of the House as the commencement speaker is not sitting well with a number of students at OSU. OSU student Nicholas Dilenschneider has created a Facebook event urging the University to say “No” to Boehner as commencement speaker. Apparently, Nicholas is disturbed by “the fact that the university would pick someone who would generate such animosity from a large segment of the population, particularly the student population, based off of his political positions.”
Another OSU student, Allison Zarem, expressed her outrage to school President Gordon Gee. Ms. Zarem believes not enough thought went into this selection. To her credit, OSU was only able to get the third most powerful man in the country to speak. I mean, why not shoot for the stars, OSU? Why not Charlie Sheen or Jon Stewart?
Without doing a disservice to Ms. Zarem, she also cited Boehner’s open attempts to abolish Pell grants, a program that helps needy students pay for college. That is an admirable reason to oppose Boehner . . . if it is true . . . which it isn’t. The Speaker does not want to eliminate the Pell grant program. Boehner has long been a supporter of Pell grants, but has sought to reform the program to ensure that both the neediest students are the primary recipients of the funds and to ensure that the program remains solvent for the years to come. However, these are merely facts, and why should an OSU student have to bother with knowing “facts”?
Perhaps these students are fighting to prevent negative coverage on par with the coverage The Catholic University of America received earlier this year when Boehner gave the commencement there. A HUGE protest (well, only 30 people) erupted, leading the Washington Post to write a whole article on it. Granted, reading the text of Boehner’s speech, I believe the protest was warranted. Check out some of these excerpts:
“After all, we live in America; a land of hope, opportunity and freedom, where you can be whatever you want to be.”
“Of course, to whom much is given, much is expected. That’s why each of you must be willing to work hard and make the sacrifices necessary to succeed.”
“Over the years, I’ve carried in my heart a similar code my parents taught me: you do the right thing for the right reasons, and good things will happen.”
Reading that hate and vile about caused me to throw my computer and call my local Congressman to ask him to seek the Speaker’s impeachment today.
Look, at the end of the day, people are allowed to protest and have the freedom to disagree with the commencement speaker at their school. It’s part of this country’s tradition of patriotism and open debate. However, there comes a time when these protests become silly and childish. Speaker Boehner has lived an extraordinary life and worked hard to become the third most powerful man in the country. His speech is not likely to be political in any way. The students of Ohio State should be grateful for this opportunity (especially considering one of their most recent commencement speakers was David Gergen). But these students complaining about the partisan, decisive nature of politics are in no way contributing to the reformation of our political system. By protesting the Speaker because they don’t agree with his message, these students have developed their own litmus test for commencement. No longer is it about stature, importance, or relevance, but rather does the speaker agree with what these students believe? The Ohio State University is a diverse school where one needs to have an open mind if they which to succeed. By refusing to tolerate the selection of a commencement speaker because of his political beliefs, these students have failed that necessary skill needed to succeed in the real world. While they may be graduating, it appears they still have a lot of learning to do.