Marshawn Lynch – Princeton Selects NFLer As Speaker & Some Students Aren’t Happy About It, Write Open Letter
Marshawn Lynch has been named the prestigious Class Day speaker for Ivy League school Princeton University, but it didn’t take long for students to share their thoughts.
Many wrote an open letter to the university via The Daily Princetonian to express their “disappointment.” The letter begins:
“To the Class Day Co-Chairs,
We wish to express our thoughts on the choice of the Class Day speaker for 2020 and propose improvements that could be made to the speaker selection process. As seniors, we had been looking forward to the speaker announcement for months. Many of us were disappointed when we saw that this year’s speaker was to be Marshawn Lynch, mainly because we did not feel included in the process by which this speaker was nominated and finally selected.”
The students go on to salute Marshawn Lynch for his “impressive” NFL career and his stance as a social activist. But they disagreed with the school’s Instagram post that says the star has
“unapologetically embodied and advocated for our own identities and values.”
“We do not mean to criticize this choice of speaker in particular, but rather want to call attention to the opaque selection process for Class Day speakers.”
They went on to point out that the last two speakers have been Ellie Kempber, who is a Princeton graduate, and Senator Cory Booker, who recently ran for President.
“In the selection of Marshawn Lynch, however, it is not evident what the set of criteria for nomination are.”
They pointed out that many students didn’t know who Marshawn Lynch is, and were surprised what they discovered after doing research, including his infamous “I’m here so I don’t get fined” statement in 2015.
“On receiving the email about the speaker announcement, members of the senior class who were not aware of Lynch tried to learn more about his identity and relevance to our Class Day ceremony. Among articles that praised his NFL career and philanthropic contributions, we came across articles discussing Lynch’s reticence with the media and his terse responses at press conferences. In 2013 and 2014, for example, Lynch was fined $50,000 and $100,000 for refusing to speak to the media. During the 2015 Superbowl Media Day, Lynch famously responded to multiple questions with variants of “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” With no other frame of reference, such reports caused confusion over the set of criteria that led to his nomination.”
They went on to call out the selection committee.
“We feel that the selection committee did not represent a broad-enough range of perspectives and did not try to compensate for this by notifying the senior class of intermediate steps in the selection process. The selection committee should have solicited our feedback on the final shortlisting of the potential candidates. If it did attempt to do so, it did not reach many of us, which is also an issue.”
They ended with,
“It is undoubtedly true that no single speaker can strike a connection with every senior on campus, and there will thus inevitably be a subset of seniors who are disappointed with the selection every year. However, we believe that reforming the nomination and selection process by clarifying the procedure and by involving the senior class will definitely anticipate such concerns, giving students a better understanding and moreover a sense of ownership over the decision to invite a specific speaker.”
What are your thoughts on the response to Marshawn Lynch being the speaker? Tell us in the comments.