In our opinion: Closed-minded universities flirt with irrelevance as they exclude commencement speakers


Return To Article
  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 25, 2014 6:17 a.m.

    It is sad that universities have decayed into mob rule. Graduation, once a celebration, now is a last chance for the inexperienced and immature to misbehave in front of an audience by defying the administration's invitation for a speaker who will say things that few will remember the next week.

    Perhaps the ceremony could be made optional, attend if you want, get your diploma in the mail (which many who "walk" still do) if you are not interested or willing to be polite and listen even though you disagree. Many of the students and parents have sacrificed much for this day and to hog the limelight and spoil a ceremony that is significant in the lives of classmates is boorish and thuggish.

    I have graduated three times and can't remember the speaker let alone the message. Save the political drama for the campaign. Now for reality: the first payment on student loans will be due and payable in about six months. No one will care about campus activism as the quest for employment overshadows political concerns.

    Welcome to reality.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2014 2:42 p.m.

    @Mike Richards
    "Does that mean that you are a Christian or does that mean that you think that you are free to define what the word " Christian" means?"

    It means I'm both a liberal and a Christian. The defining feature of Christianity is belief that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and I believe that. I believe your church is Christian even though I don't agree with all their beliefs. Usually the same deference to self-identification is given in return.

    @Stalwart Sentinal
    "It is not possible to be a conservative and a good Christian, they are mutually exclusive."

    Honestly, your post sounded like a lot of the "drugstore religious speak" you just criticized, just flipped around.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    May 22, 2014 1:40 p.m.

    joe5: "I find it interesting that liberals constantly defend their bad behavior by saying that conservatives do it so they can to."

    As Schnee pointed out above, it is a two way street. That mode of posturing is a general human trait not confined to any particular ideology. In my observation, whining about alleged double standards is common in conservative media. Just last week, a recurring talking point on several Fox programs was the Michael Sam kiss, how it was positively treated in news coverage, and how (in their minds) Tim Tebow's religious poses were always negatively covered (I recall quite a bit of favorable coverage myself, to the point that his praying stance entered the lexicon as a verb: Tebowing). I don't consume that much conservative media, but when I do I can reliably count on somebody saying something to the effect of, "Well, if a CONSERVATIVE did/said that, the liberal media would be howling." Such indignant huffing about perceived double standards may be a liberal meme as well, but I don't notice them as much (motes and beams, you know).

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    May 22, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    Stalwart Sentinel: Yeah, because that is what Christ did - attend rallies and use rhetoric against those who dared to disagree with his personal philosophies. Your whole comment reeks of Christlike words, attitudes, and behavior - NOT.

    Today, the only ones forcing their thoughts, views, attitudes, and behaviors on others are liberals.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    May 22, 2014 12:07 a.m.

    Mike Richards - Spare us the drugstore religious speak. I find more Christlike attributes among those at a civil rights rally for a livable wage or a protest to protect our natural resources than any Tea Party gathering, pro-death penalty hatefest, or 2nd Amendment "show off yer killin' machine" event. And guess who are the ones constantly screaming "Lord, Lord" though they hold no Christian values? Conservatives. Indeed, Christ was the ultimate liberal - He lived His life according to His own precepts and allowed others to live as they saw fit. He understood that His example would lead others to want to follow Him - He did not need to compel others through force.

    Conversely, Lucifer sought to require everyone to live according to his moral dictates - just as modern-day conservatism seeks to utilize the machinations of government to force it's warped view of moralism on the Nation. Be honest with yourself, nearly every political stance you take is rooted in your own personal, moral code - conservatives use a secular government to force their religion on others. It is not possible to be a conservative and a good Christian, they are mutually exclusive.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 21, 2014 2:10 p.m.

    Re: Schnee,

    You tell us that you are a "liberal Christian". Does that mean that you are a Christian or does that mean that you think that you are free to define what the word " Christian" means? I am not picking nits. Christ defined the word "Christian". To be included into those who align themselves as Christians also requires that they accept Christ, His doctrines, and His restrictions. "Liberal" and "Christian" are opposing labels. Christ told us as much when He reminded us that many who say "Lord, Lord" will be rejected at the "gate".

    Everyone is free to live as they wish, and to receive a reward in direct proportion to their lifestyle, but non-liberal limitations are placed on those who claim to be "Christians". Christ reserved the definition of "Christian" to Himself. He is the most conservative of conservatives, reminding us that few will be found among those "qualified" as His followers.

    You've posted many times. It's abundantly clear where you stand.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 21, 2014 1:09 p.m.

    @Mike Richards
    "It seems that too many people think that only those who tell us us that there is no God"

    Heh, I'm a liberal Christian. I suppose you should introduce me to these random liberals who think this way.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 21, 2014 12:55 p.m.

    Some would tell us us that "liberal" means acceptance of "immoral" or "amoral" conduct. That's nonsense. Liberal does not require someone to check his brain at the door; it only requires him to listen to other ideas. Only a fool would NOT use his intellectual tools to evaluate right from wrong and good from evil. It seems that too many people think that only those who tell us us that there is no God, that nothing is absolute, that good and evil exist only in bigotted minds, are "liberal". what they fail to recognise is the difference between "godlessness" and "evil".

    God knows everything. Man knows almost nothing. God understands the difference between good and evil. Man, in his natural state, chooses evil, or carnal. Man, left to himself, will self-destruct. Man, with God's help, will survive. A truly liberal person does not exclude God.

  • Rural sport fan DUCHESNE, UT
    May 21, 2014 12:39 p.m.

    The problem for colleges is that at some point, businesses decided they didn't want educated people that could learn to do the job that the business would train them in, instead they want the college to train their employee as well.

    That's ludicrous.

    So now we have an entitled generation that uses social media to push minority ideas into an undeserved limelight, and administrations that are afraid of the media and labels, and even more worried about what that could do to their bottom line profits than about education and integrity.

  • Utefan60 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 21, 2014 8:56 a.m.

    To Mike Richards....did you read your own letter? The exact same thing could have been said by a supposed liberal. Some very fine liberal people have been taken out of the conservative arena by the same arguments that you put up. Is BYU having a liberal speaker at their graduation? Wouldn't that be nice for them as they enter the real world to hear another point of view also?

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    May 20, 2014 10:58 p.m.

    It' a scary moment for me tonight, I actually agree with Mike Richards...

  • use the noodle Casa Grande, AZ
    May 20, 2014 10:04 p.m.

    The current higher education model will be irrelevant when employers stop being impressed by it.

    The only reason any of us need a degree is to get a job position that REQUIRES it. Otherwise, we could just be smart and experienced.

    I have over 180 college credits but no bachelor's degree. Therefore I'm educated more than most with a 4 year degree but I can't get e job that REQUIRES a bachelor's degree.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 20, 2014 8:23 p.m.


    True, I flunked Business. I was told that I just didn't have that killer instinct. However, that deficit in my character didn't prevent me from learning about the why, what and wherefore of business.

    Businessmen often see themselves as deities above the natural, normal human being. To that end they believe that their talents and opportunities come from their God or sometimes just themselves. They express this in their oft quoted "I did it myself". That attitude translates into an assumed divine right to manipulate the lives of others. Its that last part that I disagree with.

    The founding fathers were , businessmen, politicians and a part of the rich and powerful. Regardless of their true motives, they put some words down promising rights and freedoms for all. I dedicate my life to hold them to their words.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    May 20, 2014 4:42 p.m.

    2bits - I don't think the proper term for Hillary Clinton is "disqualified" but I would certainly call into question whether she should speak at a commencement too. However, not for the reasons you outline because they are factually inaccurate. First, far more people were killed in Iraq prior to Hillary becoming SoS, it's undeniable; please look it up for yourself. Second, while I'm not a fan of Hillary, she became SoS in 2009 and helped usher the end of military combat by 2010. Condi, on the other hand, lied numerous times in public and private in order to tip the scales in the direction of invasion.

    Again, I am not a Hillary Clinton fan; she is a shill for large corporations and the political status quo but her negative activity with respect to Iraq pales in comparison to Condi's. Condi is quite possibly guilty of committing war crimes, Clinton not even close.

    So, while I support the notion that Hillary should not give a commencement speech, she is far more reputable to do so when compared to someone like Condi who has her hands partially stained with the murder of thousands of innocent civilians and American soldiers.

  • Mikhail ALPINE, UT
    May 20, 2014 4:30 p.m.

    @Ultra Bob You must not be a business man. Business is motivated to make a profit. If business can make a profit by financing education so that graduates are qualified to "flip burgers" than that would be sad, if true. However, the logic is flawed. The education business is in the business to make a profit also - by convincing people that they can offer a superior education for the best price. The education business is failing because it offers such curriculum as "women studies" and "African Studies. Those appear to be curriculum that would support government employment, rather than private business (wasted time in my opinion). Business is interested in hard working, dedicated, well spoken and well written individuals, who are willing and able to meet the needs of its customers. The more education and the more experience, the better, as far as business is concerned. Government, in order to maintain power and to create a "utopian" environment where the minions do the work for the "enlightened," is invested in ignorance in education - not business.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 4:06 p.m.

    "I find it interesting that liberals constantly defend their bad behavior by saying that conservatives do it so they can to. "

    I was just pointing out this goes both ways. Personally, I'm not particularly fond of these sorts of protests, but hey, if people on either side want to do that I suppose that's their prerogative. I went to Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and Ann Coulter's events at Penn State while I was there, and not for any sort of heckling; just listened (I still have an autographed Ron Paul campaign sign so that's pretty cool).

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 20, 2014 3:52 p.m.

    "Recent surveys have shown that many colleges and universities are doing a poor job preparing young people for a life in the workforce."

    Could it just be that college students are not inspired by the thought of flipping hamburgers.

    Businessmen believe that the fundamental purpose of education is to create properly trained employees. If that is true, we are just wasting money by educating people beyond high school.

    Or could it just be that universities have more profitable irons in the fire than educating people.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    May 20, 2014 2:23 p.m.

    I find it interesting that liberals constantly defend their bad behavior by saying that conservatives do it so they can to. This is the primary argument of posters like BobK, KJB1, Schnee, JoeBlow, Mark B, Esquire, isrred, et al. In fact, as I look at this list (gleaned from the first 20 responses) I see very little sign of broad thinking. Instead I see herd mentality as if they are all copying each others thoughts. What happened to the days when people could formulate their own thoughts instead of just piling on top of the thoughts of others?

    But the real point is that liberals apparently aspire to be as good as, but no better, than conservatives. In essence, liberals aspirations are to justify their behavior and words based on the worst they can find.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 20, 2014 1:39 p.m.

    @Stalwart Sentinel,
    If they were calling Rice's character into question (because she facilitated the death of over 100,000 Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers)... then Hillary Clinton is disqualified from speaking at any of these events as well. Most of those deaths occurred when she was the Secretary of State and facilitating what was going on in those wars.

    I think it's pretty obvious it wasn't her character that was in question. Rice has a pretty good reputation of being a good person, and a good speaker. I think it's obvious the objection was because she's of a different political persuasion (she's from the party their teachers vilify daily in class).

    But IF Secretary Clinton would also be disqualified for the same reason... then I guess you may be right.

    But I suspect Clinton would be allowed to speak. So maybe I'm right, and it's the vilification of the party she represents that mattered to these protesters.

    Last comment I think...

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 1:36 p.m.

    @Irony Guy

    I agree that education is it own reward, but today's students simply cannot ignore marketability upon graduation. The situation for labor is just too tight.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    May 20, 2014 11:24 a.m.

    I could not disagree more with the DN editorial. The "fundamental purpose" of a university is to teach people how to seek truth, beauty, and goodness. "Marketable skills" are SECONDARY.

  • Stalwart Sentinel San Jose, CA
    May 20, 2014 10:43 a.m.

    Bob K nailed it. This is not a debate or a classroom discussion, it is a commencement speech. Despite this low-information opinion piece from the DesNews, college campuses still host a variety of speakers throughout any given year with widely disparate opinions - I attended dozens upon dozens of such speeches and debates while in school.

    In this case, the students have no clue what Condi Rice et al were going to say so they are not protesting Condi's opinions. Rather, they are calling into question her character. They do not want their commencement speech to be given by someone who facilitated the death of over 100,000 Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers - as well as costing Americans nearly two trillion dollars (where are you fiscal conservatives?). They are not protesting her opinions, they are protesting her actions. Condi's right to speak her mind has not been limited; she can go on any Sunday morning show, say what she wants, and reach a far wider audience than the few thousand that would have been in attendance at the commencement.

    This is not the trampling of free speech, it is the exercise of it.

  • Lagomorph Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    Nate: "For all the lip-service given to diversity, the Left is strikingly intolerant toward diversity of thought."

    And Liberty University last had an evolutionary biologist on its biology faculty when? Or invited Richard Dawkins as a commencement speaker when?

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    May 20, 2014 10:11 a.m.

    I was a student at BYU with Ted Kennedy spoke. When he started denouncing the government for the Vietnam War, he was booed of the stage. Maybe he thought that all college students hated their government. Maybe he thought that all college students were on drugs and into the Berkley lifestyle. But, he was invited to speak and he was allowed to say what he wanted to say.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 20, 2014 10:00 a.m.

    About BYU being closed minded... The last speaker I remember being protested by BYU students (big time protests)..... was Dick Cheney (a Conservative). So if they are so closed minded... why would students at this fairly conservative school protest Dick Cheney speaking at their commencement?

    Do you remember those protests? They were conducted by the supposedly "Tolerant" left-leaning students. It caused a lot of controversy. Surely you can remember it....

    If not... Google "LDS Church concerning Cheney visit to BYU"...

    The LDS Church issued a statement concerning the controversy. Read it... you'll find it's not closed minded. The protesters were the ones being "closed minded", and trying to limit someone else's right to free speach...

  • isrred South Jordan, UT
    May 20, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    The hypocrisy of the Deseret News bashing closed minded universities while sharing an owner with Byu, one of the most closed minded universities in the country, is staggering.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 20, 2014 9:11 a.m.

    @Bob K,
    Re: "Controversial people and points of view are for the classroom, not commencement celebration"...

    So... if controversial people and points of view are only for the classroom... why did "Student Leaders" at UVU (a VERY Conservative campus) invite Michael Moore to speak there in 2004 (while he was hammering our President)?

    Books about it (Google "Free Speach 101 - The Utah Valley Uproar over Michael Moore")

    The movie (Google "This Divided State")

    Some background for those with limited memory...

    "IN THE FALL OF 2004, just weeks before the already hostile national elections, student leaders at Utah Valley State invited one of the most controversial figures in America, film maker Michael Moore, to one of the most conservative campuses in the country"....

    There were protests, but they were wrong-headed (same as the protests at liberal Universities). But the UVU did not give in (unlike the liberal Universities)

    The author of the book says, "It was made because the underlying issue throughout the controversy -- constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech -- trumps personal preferences"...

    I agree.

    Although many students protested... the administration DEMONSTRATED "tolerance", and didn't fold to vocal intolerant protesters (as these liberal Universities did).

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 20, 2014 9:08 a.m.

    I believe the Editorial Board does not understands that many believe the Iraq War was morally and legally wrong and the American people were deliberately deceived. Should we now honor those individuals who were in a position of responsibility and give them a stage and tell our children how they should influence the future generation.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 9:03 a.m.

    Bob K
    portland, OR

    You have conveniently forgotten that virtually all Democrat leaders voted in favor of the Iraq war during Bush's first term and Mr. Obama took ownership of the Afghan war. By that metric, there is virtually no one who should speak at a commencement. Like the Bolsheviks, today's left cannot tolerate open discussion.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 20, 2014 8:50 a.m.

    If these student protests demonstrate "TOLERANCE"... then I need a new dictionary.

    And if I'm not mistaken, these were LIBERAL student groups, protesting having to tolerate the presence of a Conservative guest at their University, and maybe hear a Conservative point of view (possibly, we don't know what the guest may have said if they were allowed to speak).

    Liberals.. need to teach your kids again. Teach them what "Tolerance" means. By YOUR example.

  • Mark B Eureka, CA
    May 20, 2014 8:46 a.m.

    I wonder if BYU ever canceled a speaker based on his/her "liberal fascist" beliefs. And if that ever happened, did Mike R. or M-man object, insisting that the airing of different beliefs is a good thing?

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    May 20, 2014 8:40 a.m.

    The minute BYU does something that highlights a liberal in a big way, please let me know. Frankly, the fact that students at some universities don't want to listen to certain speakers is no big deal. It is, after all, their graduation and their experience. So again, back to BYU. I've seen a prominent LDS Democrat treated poorly by BYU audiences. In the spirit of the old blues song, before you accuse me, take a look at yourself. Both in practice and in spirit. Disclosure: I'm a BYU grad and have been connected to the school since childhood.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    May 20, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    Again, we see posters complaining about the liberal left while turning a blind eye to the same actions by the conservative right.

    Funny how we see only what we want to see.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 8:19 a.m.

    Um... people complained about Michelle Obama speaking at a high school graduation too and she withdrew as well, this isn't only a left thing.

  • Mountanman Victor, ID
    May 20, 2014 8:18 a.m.

    These "universities" should lose their tax free status for being political activists groups. If the TEA party gets targeted, why let these fools off the hook? Where is Lois Lerner? Where is Harry Reid? Where is Obama? If Fidel Castro or Mao tse Tung or Joseph Stalin were to speak, these activists would give them a standing ovation and tell us how "open minded and tolerant" they are!

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    May 20, 2014 8:01 a.m.

    So conservatives can stand up for what they believe in and make themselves heard while liberals should just shut up and accept what they're given. Good to know...

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 20, 2014 7:16 a.m.

    For all the lip-service given to diversity, the Left is strikingly intolerant toward diversity of thought.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    May 20, 2014 7:10 a.m.

    A University should be the last place on earth to censor someone because he or she has different ideas. When truth is the object of learning, hearing opposing ideas an excellent way to see which points to explore further. Our personal knowledge is expanded when we are presented new ideas. If we are wise, we listen before researching and we research before deciding which idea has the most merit.

    It's not just Universities where close-minded people reject ideas. That trait can be found almost anywhere. Look at the posts commenting on letters in any newspaper that has an electronic edition. Close-minded people constantly reject anything that opposes their viewpoint by "shouting down" those they oppose. Listen to people taking. So many times, they only want to hear from others who support their point of view. Look at the present Administration in Washington. With millions of people unemployed, there is no one with extensive business experience serving at a cabinet level position.

    Open-minded people are not afraid of hearing new things. They are invigorated by new and different ideas.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    May 20, 2014 7:08 a.m.

    "put the petulant disruptors in their place."

    How dare those pesky youngins exercise thier rights to free speech!

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    May 20, 2014 6:59 a.m.

    Nothing more than liberal fascism exposing itself!

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 20, 2014 12:28 a.m.

    Students/workers need to be able to take control of their own futures. An example of this is found in Europe where worker self-directed enterprises (WSDEs) are becoming more important. In such enterprises, each worker has two job descriptions. First, he/she has assigned tasks in the enterprise's division of labor. Second, he/she participates in the democratic decisions by all workers about what, how and where to produce and how to distribute the enterprise's profits. In WSDEs, workers comprise their own boards of directors.

    The workers decide what education to require of themselves. But to make this sort of thing work they have to be able to form cooperatives and make them work. The huge Mondragon cooperative in Spain has its own university where, among more conventional courses, students are taught how to form WSDE's.

    Empower people, don't treat them as raw material.

  • Bob K portland, OR
    May 20, 2014 12:22 a.m.

    The editorial completely misses the facts of recent incidents, in its' attempt to put over some right wing point.

    Speakers who would have offended the students by their presence were protested by the students. Perhaps the DN editors would sit for a speech by someone who helped create the Iraq war, but students should hear people who inspire them.

    Controversial people and points of view are for the classroom, not commencement celebration.

    However, I suppose we will be seeing Dan Savage speak at BYU at the urging of the DN editorial board.