Defending Commencement Protest

Michael Rushmore, Ignatia Webs, May 27, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I have never attended any of my graduation ceremonies and have no idea who spoke at them. I would probably have disapproved; I think that universities often celebrate the wrong people (the selection for this year's University of Calgary speakers makes my point: the outgoing Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, a science journalist, the CEO of the Calgary Stampede, and an executive in the grain and energy industries). But simply skipping graduation is not an option for many students, and given that they're being dragged into association with the speakers, they do have, they believe, the right to make a statement about that selection. But in fact, they don't - and in a complete reversal of roles, they are being told that objecting to this sort of arbitrary association is somehow a denial of free expression. What poppycock. If anything, I think former student Michael Rushmore should have taken a stronger stance  defending the students' rights to protest.

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