The editors of the student-run newspaper at the University of Pennsylvania are bucking the administration in their choice to invite United States Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey to speak at this year’s commencement. The students object to Booker’s liberal-minded beliefs, and say it would be better for students to hear speakers of “differing world views.” The paper, the Daily Pennsylvanian, released an editorial letter, stating that while Booker was qualified to give the address, his point of view hardly challenges the intellect of the student body.
Cory Booker is considered a star of the Democratic party, and was at one point considered as a running mate for Hillary Clinton as her vice president. Though Clinton ultimately chose Tim Kaine, says the Inquisitr, many think that Cory Booker would have been a smarter choice, particularly for his attractiveness to the youth vote.
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The Philly Voice says that in the opinion of the Daily Pennsylvanian, a conservative or moderate speaker would be a better choice for the 2017 graduating class speaker than Cory Booker, who is thought to embody the current liberal voice. The editorial opinion stated that the last moderate to conservative speaker at the University of Pennsylvania was in 2010 when Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China, class of 1987, spoke.
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Perhaps there is a feeling that Cory Booker, who is diametrically opposed to all things Donald Trump, himself a UPENN graduate, class of 1968, has a liberal voice that the university is choosing over that of the president and his administration. The editorial board says that by appearing to favor a liberal voice like Booker, the University of Pennsylvania is alienating conservative students. However, to her credit, Penn president Amy Gutmann remained neutral through the course of the election. But since Trump took office, Gutmann has taken umbrage with Trump’s executive order imposing travel restrictions on immigrants seeking entry to the country, calling it “inimical.”
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With the editorial suggesting that the University Of Pennsylvania could have made a better choice than Cory Booker, the Daily Pennsylvanian makes it clear that their thoughts about Booker as the 2017 graduation speaker are not personal. The editorial criticizing the University for making a “safe choice” is labeled as being by the editorial staff, as opposed to the editor specifically.
The editorial said that by choosing Cory Booker to deliver the commencement address “Penn shocked no one by continuing a trend of having unabashedly liberal public figures preach to a very sympathetic audience.” To be honest, the last five speakers have all been of a liberal mindset, and have included Booker, Broadway mastermind Lin-Manuel Miranda, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, singer and 1999 College graduate John Legend and former Vice President Joe Biden.
But perhaps one has to look at the purpose of a graduation speaker to decide if Cory Booker would be the best person for the job. Is a commencement speaker supposed to give you the opinion from the flip side of the coin, or is it supposed to inspire students to go forth to build upon the character that hopefully was further developed while at the university? Even those who do not agree with Booker can’t argue that he is an excellent speaker, and in the current political climate, someone adjacent to the Trump administration would likely turn the joyful graduation into a protest opportunity.
While many are saying that they must agree to disagree with the opinions of the editorial board, the staff of the Daily Pennsylvanian is standing firm.
“We do not contest that Booker is qualified — or even, considered purely on his own merits, appropriate — for the job. But beyond its potential to contribute to an apparent pattern of ideological favoritism that threatens to alienate conservative students, the choice of Senator Booker is unfortunate in its intellectual opportunity cost.”
What do you think of the Daily Pennsylvanian objecting to Cory Booker speaking at the University of Pennsylvania graduation? Do you agree or disagree?
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