Make college commencements boring again

During his commencement address this month at my alma mater, Ohio State, Chris Pan admitted that he took psychedelic drugs to prepare his remarks. Watching the unhinged reaction to average commencement speeches across the country, he’s not the only one with an altered state of consciousness. 

A change.org petition calls for firing devout Catholic Harrison Butker for delivering a Catholic commencement speech at a Catholic university.

Duke students left Jerry Seinfeld’s address because of his pro-Israel views, and George Washington University students this weekend protested Israel before leaving their commencement. 

With every protest over something that was completely normal and agreed upon seemingly five minutes ago, like the Jewish people having a right to defend themselves from being slaughtered, we are witnessing the symptom of a more significant problem. 

COLLEGE STUDENTS LAMENT INTERRUPTED AND CANCELED COMMENCEMENT CEREMONIES DUE TO ANTI-ISRAEL UNREST

We see how isolated and progressive campuses react to hearing different opinions. The path forward here is simple: make college commencements boring again through better university leadership and welcoming those who question far-left orthodoxy. 

These ceremonies should be simple – overly long, tedious and featuring speeches littered with more cliches than an NFL postgame interview. It’s a rite of passage.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Celebrating a family member earning a degree after years of strenuous work is terrific. I am not diminishing that. But out-of-touch students seizing this innocuous platform for incendiary protests certainly are.

Protesting for or against issues you are passionate about is a part of the college experience that shouldn’t change. But we need ground rules for protests, or entire universities become paralyzed – just ask Columbia University. 

COLLEGE PROTESTS REVEAL ALARMING TERRORIST SUPPORT. AND JIHADIS CHEER THEM ON

Thankfully, with clear guidance, some leaders have stood up to this obnoxious behavior. University of Florida President Ben Sasse recently said it well: “We have time, place and manner restrictions, and you don’t get to take over the whole university. People don’t get to spit at cops. You don’t get to barricade yourselves in buildings. You don’t get to disrupt somebody else’s commencement.”

These kinds of instructions are crucial and prepare students for the real world. Google – not exactly known as extremely conservative – fired employees for protesting the company’s work with Israel. 

Americans have the freedom to protest but not freedom from consequences. 

I’M PART OF GEN X AND MAYBE WE ARE THE REASON FOR CRAZY COLLEGE PROTESTS

Courageous university presidents who offer their students strong leadership are just one part of the puzzle. We also need to disrupt the intellectually lazy echo chambers that most “institutions of higher education” have become. 

Without free speech and critical thinking, education becomes indoctrination, and students are set up for failure when they leave the safe confines of their progressive bubbles. 

College life should be an opportunity for people from across the ideological spectrum, from all backgrounds and places, to engage each other respectfully – while interrogating each other’s ideas. That is how intellectual growth and development happen. 

NYU STUDENTS WALK OUT OF COMMENCEMENT, DEMAND UNIVERSITY DIVEST FROM ISRAEL

We all lose when students are robbed of this experience by feckless administrators and intolerant professors. Some students even feel the need to censor themselves for fear of inciting a mob, only guaranteeing that the status quo is left unquestioned and proper education remains elusive. 

This reality is a tragedy because our country faces serious challenges requiring incredible creativity and innovation. Our nation’s best and brightest should be having thoughtful arguments about the most innovative ways to address critical issues like the national debt, immigration, and climate change. 

Instead, self-aggrandizing students are turning college commencements into circuses. 

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To fix this problem, university presidents must demonstrate strong leadership and clarify protest rules. Students who disagree with the prevailing left-wing orthodoxy should be welcome to voice their opinions without fear of being shouted down. 

That way, commencements can return to being tedious ceremonies that exalt the graduates’ hard work – not their grievances. 

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