Students respond to others disappointed with speaker

As the news spread that President Steven B. Sample would be the 2010 commencement speaker, some seniors grumbled they weren’t getting an outside speaker as past classes have. But now, other seniors are banding together in support of Sample.

“I don’t understand why everyone is so upset,” said Brian Tenenbaum, a senior majoring in international relations.

In reaction to the Facebook group “Class of 2010 — Let’s get a Real Commencement Speaker,”  started by Will Sohigian, a senior majoring in sociology and Spanish, Tenenbaum began the “I am Proud Steven Sample is my Commencement Speaker”  Facebook group.

Tenenbaum said he can see the reason for students’ frustration but does not think it is warranted.

“Students [probably] got used to big names coming to campus,” he said.

Tenenbaum said he’s heard Sample speak before and was confident the university made a smart decision.

“He used to do a lot of orientation speeches, so he was one of the first speakers I saw when coming here. To have him as the last one would be great,” he said.

Sohigian said he created the group against having Sample as a speaker because he feels the class deserves a commencement speaker from outside the university.

“We’ve been having [President Sample] speak for several years now,” he said. “We’re only going to be graduating one time.”

Other seniors echoed this sentiment.

“I feel sort of cheated because he speaks at every commencement,” said Brian Hunt, a senior majoring in communication. “It’s usually someone fun and entertaining but nevertheless someone with an interesting perspective and someone who can relay that in a speech.”

Senior Vice President of University Relations Martha Harris said Sample was chosen because of the significance of this time in USC’s history.

“Typically, the president seeks ideas about the commencement speaker at the beginning of the year,” Harris said. “But the cabinet felt this year was a really historic moment at the university.”

Harris said she could understand students’ feelings but thought the sentiment of those against Sample was a little misguided.

“This is a kind of thing students will appreciate later as alumni, when they see the giant leap [the university] took,” Harris said.

Many faculty members agree and say they think Sample is as good a choice as previous USC speakers like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or notable journalist Ted Koppel.

“It’s a great choice. It’s his last commencement,” said Michael B. Preston, professor of political science. “Presiding over the ceremony is different than speaking.”

Though some have strong opinions, Hunt noted that he thinks the majority is ambivalent toward the graduation speaker and is just looking forward to the general event.

“The speech will speak for itself,” Hunt said. “Most don’t care who it is.”

4 replies
  1. Sy
    Sy says:

    It looks like something that DT wrote to kind of calm down resentment against the speaker this year. definitely not buying the article where they say that students banded together or what not.

    By the way, that FB group ,”I am Proud Steven Sample is my Commencement Speaker” only has 10 members. as opposed to “Class of 2010 — Let’s get a Real Commencement Speaker,” which has over 370 members.

    nice job.

  2. Jack
    Jack says:

    Also worth noting is that the group against Sample as commencement speaker has around 350 members, whereas the one in favor of Sample as commencement speaker has 9. Keep that in mind. This article does not mention that.

  3. Jeannie
    Jeannie says:

    For all of USC’s bragging about becoming a top school, the pride, (and well warranted), the excitement, how it is now more difficult to get into than ever, more applicants than ever, competing with big name schools and now top on lists, etc etc etc..and ‘global’, expanding, more international students, study abroad, etc. etc. etc., the choice of Sample as speaker for commencement is such a contradiction to that, it just seems so ’small town’ and ‘insular’ for where this school is now….yes, he is partly responsible for that, but have a special DAY to honor him, have a special WEEK for him, with tributes in his honor to give HIM the send off HE deserves..but commencement is for THE STUDENTS… no one is saying he has not done an amazing job and just about everyone recognizes honor him at commencement, but not have him as the guest speaker, when most have heard him speak many times over at school through the years. And he is a wonderful speaker.. but this is the students day. If USC is indeed up there with the other famous world renown schools then why not have guest speakers on the level those schools have? Not just some ‘celeb’, but someone OUT THERE in the WORLD, outside of the school, who has accomplished things BEYOND USC, since the hope is that our graduates will have many accomplishments BEYOND USC..I think Sample has done an amazing job. I also think he should recognize this as a once in a lifetime event for the grads, and should have been a big man, and been willing to step aside and give them the send off they deserve. Or all the bragging, all the notices sent to homes and e-mails regarding how great USC has become, pale, if the class graduating, at what seems to be the height of that rise, can’t have a world renown speaker of note on their commencement day, as other top schools have. . It seems that everything at USC has GROWN, except in this area. This area has now, this year, gotten SMALLER…If there was a committee in charge of seeking out and booking a speaker for this special day they should all be replaced, as this was not only a huge oversight, a big mistake of judgment, but seems to be laziness, taking the low road, in the extreme. Or was it University POLITICS, which would be very sad as it is the graduates who suffer …The students have been encouraged to ‘go for it’ to think big, think global, expand themselves in their years at USC, just as the school has done.. and then they get the easiest choice to speak at their graduation…and the grads, who have worked so hard, and have been so committed to, and proud of, the greatness of their school, deserve better on THEIR very special day..not the President’s day, not the Alums day, not the UNIVERSITY POWERS THAT BE day, but THEIR day.

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