The Speaker's Role

by Julian Saltman | 5/24/02 5:00am

To the Editor:

With such political luminaries as Ehud Barak and Desmond Tutu and the brilliant Maya Angelou all descending on Dartmouth during one term, I find it hard to fathom that Anil Antony needs to have another politically or socially renowned figure give the commencement address (The Dartmouth, May 16, "The Fred Rogers Folly").

Regardless of their political or social stature, I highly doubt that Condoleezza Rice, Jim Lehrer, Daniel Patrick Moynihan or President Bush are capable of giving an interesting speech that is not simply recycled from one event to another, and littered with the proverbial 60 quotations from Bartlett's. I had Sen. Max Cleland speak at my high school graduation, and I was bored senseless by his rambling and overly verbose speech, filled to the brim with generalized quotations. So bored, in fact, that I wish Elmo from Sesame Street would have spoken in his place.

Commencement speakers are not supposed to be the "culmination" of a year's worth of speakers, but rather someone who might shed a little light on the mysterious world into which a senior class embarks. Mr. Rogers, in this sense, is the perfect graduation speaker, and I am sure that his speech will not be the same boring dribble from political commencement speakers who are paid for their prestige, not for their intellect or message. It is unfortunate that as a child Mr. Antony was not able to take away any of the basic, non-religious lessons that Mr. Rogers taught in his show, so perhaps he should watch some reruns. Maybe he would learn about making the best of the situation instead of whining because he cannot brag to his friends and family about how "prestigious" Dartmouth's commencement speaker is.