Much controversy has erupted since the announcement of Gov. Tom Corbett as the MU spring 2013 commencement speaker. The opposition of this announcement stems from all aspects of the spectrum including, but not limited to: MU students, MU staff members, MU alumni, and concerned parents.
The angst surrounding this decision is drawn from those who contend the 20 percent funding cuts to higher education that have created problems for students attending state-owned and state-related universities. In some specific cases, these cuts have resulted in class offerings being reduced which leads to students having to take an extra semester of classes or to take summer classes to graduate on time which can be costly.
Corbett’s policies have proved to be unpopular among students and some faculty members. Some have even denounced the university for inviting the governor to speak.
Petitions have even been circulated in opposition among MU students and staff members. Some students have even gone as far as to create a Facebook page, entitled “No Corbett at Millersville.” They have deemed themselves, “We are a group of MU Students, Faculty, Alumni and concerned citizens, who are against the administration’s decision to have Governor Corbett as our commencement speaker. We stand in defense of public higher education.”
An MU senior, who wishes to remain anonymous stated, “I wasn’t planning on walking during graduation, but now with Corbett as commencement speaker there is definitely no way I’ll be at graduation.” Many other seniors have been expressing similar thoughts and feelings as the previous comment states.
The Millersville Student Senate is currently drafting a letter to the current administration asking that the selection process of how commencement speakers is chosen be altered to include more student opinion.
“We believe that if the students have a chance to have a voice in choosing their own commencement speaker, situations like the one we currently face could be avoided. We ask students to share with us their suggestions and opinions on how the commencement speaker should be selected. Please do so by writing on our facebook page (Millersville Student Senate), tweeting us at @VilleSenate or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org,” stated Student Senate.
Also stated on the Student Senate Facebook page is that, “the Senate is looking into helping to facilitate a form of silent protest during the 2013 commencement for those graduating seniors and/or their families who wish to participate. By providing a visual symbol of dissent, those who wish can show their protest during commencement, without disrupting the ceremony for the other graduates or their families.”
Student Senate will also be hosting a public forum to facilitate discussion between concerned Millersville students and the administration. “The purpose of this is for students to get a better understanding of both sides of having Governor Corbett speak at Spring 2013 commencement,” stated Student Senate.
In attendance at the public forum will be Mr. Jerry Eckert, VP for University Advancement and chair of the commencement speaker selection committee. The forum is for all students including those who agree with and disagree with the commencement speaker selection. This public forum will be held on April 3, 2013, at 5 p.m. in the SMC Atrium.