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The Dartmouth
June 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Commencement Speaker

To the Editor:

I really wish that President Freedman and the editors of The Dartmouth would give the Class of 1997 a little credit. Although I have never heard of Paavo Lipponen, I have heard of Finland, and thus I'm willing to have an open mind about having the keynote address at Commencement given by a foreign head of state. I would personally have preferred someone more relevant to all students (European politics is not high on my list of priorities as I am forced to leave Dartmouth) yet I, like most of my classmates, will be respectful of anyone chosen to speak.

I am offended, however, with the manner in which both President Freedman and the editors of The Dartmouth chose to announce Lipponen as speaker. In other words, get over yourselves. While it is true that many students had never before heard of Paavo Lipponen, must it automatically follow that students would protest his appointment? Must we be treated like small children and reminded to be respectful of our elders? Yesterday's piece by the Dartmouth Editorial Board stated that: "Students who are tempted to criticize the choice of Lipponen should ... reexamine what they have learned in their time at Dartmouth." Well, excuse me, but as a senior about to face the real world I hardly need to be reminded by the editors of The Dartmouth (who are juniors) to act my age. I'm about to be an alum, and am very familiar with what I have learned over the last four years.

I am also offended by the manner in which President Freedman chose to keep this matter a secret. Since the Class of 1997 is about to graduate from the College which he presides over, you would think that he would have a higher opinion of Dartmouth's soon-to-be graduates, yet there it was on the front page of The Dartmouth: "he kept Lipponen's status as this year's speaker secret so students would not protest for someone more famous." It's frightening that the President of our own college thinks so little of the students that he educates. In handling the announcement in such a manner, Freedman underestimates both his students and his speaker. Commencement marks the end of our time as Dartmouth students. It is unfortunate that it must be marked by so little respect towards the people that it was intended to honor.