Phi Beta Cons

Can’t a President Speak at His Own College?

The buzz out of Foggy Bottom today involves the controversial choice by George Washington University for its commencement speaker this year.
Worse than choosing McCain, or even Imus, GW chose its own president / D.C. real estate magnate Stephen Joel Trachtenberg as this year’s keynote for its graduation, according to this story in the GW Hatchet. The other speaker will be failed D.C. mayoral candidate Linda Cropp, a wife of a GW professor. In an interview with the Hatchet, Trachtenberg defended the choice, saying:

We thought we’ve given you such a rich array of speakers during the year, between the president of Afghanistan and the president of Pakistan and former president of the United States … When people are dining on a high-calorie diet like that, periodically you have to cut back on a little bit of that diet.

The choice was announced yesterday afternoon, and immediately provoked an outcry from GW students. A facebook.com group has close to 700 GW students organizing in official protest of the selection of Trachtenberg as speaker. There are rumors of a protest or possible boycott of the commencement ceremonies by this year’s graduating seniors. And today, the Hatchet’s editorial argues, “GW administrators deserve nothing less than contempt from the students they purport to serve” for their choice.
Righteous indignation, or typical college students with idealistic expectations—you decide. You’d think that GW might at least be able to snag a freshman congressman with nothing to do on a Sunday, rather than someone who was going to speak anyway.

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