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Editorial: Students should be 1st priority at Ohio State

E. Gordon Gee (left) and Dr. Michael Drake.  Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

E. Gordon Gee (left) and Dr. Michael Drake.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor



It’s easy for Ohio State to have an off year at one point or another in its 144-year history. The phrase that has been used by polite company is “a year of transition.”

Everyone knows the backstory by now: then-President E. Gordon Gee stepped down in June, and in July, Joseph Alutto assumed the interim presidency. The several months that followed involved a search for OSU’s next leader, who was announced in January to be Dr. Michael Drake.

That is the big picture of what has been going on at the university, and what will likely be the only thing many people can recall about the 2013-14 academic year down the road. However, it is only a basic snapshot of the year, and ignores the most important part of a university: the students.

In a period of time consumed by the search for the next president, student interest and involvement in many ways was swept under the rug. For example, with all the transitioning happening, OSU dropped the ball on finding a Spring Commencement speaker and dropped the traditional means of selecting one by way of a committee.

OSU was four to five months behind in its selection process, and because of this, Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz was put in charge of handing the selection process, and he very candidly explained what had happened in an interview with The Lantern.

“It turns out in so much transition that was going on, the selection of a speaker came rather later than normal,” Steinmetz said April 1.

Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” was selected as the speaker, to the dismay of many students who disagree with his political views. But to just talk about Matthews as if he is the problem would be a failure to recognize the real issue at hand: Students weren’t involved in the selection process.

Roughly 10,000 students are expected to graduate May 4, a ceremony that will be marked by a keynote speech by Matthews and no one remembered to ask for student input. This signals a serious lapse in judgement and a divergence from the university’s core mission, values and reason for existence.

This specific example has been identified as a problem by the administration and a solution has been identified to avoid a repeated offense in the future. A new committee has been drawn that will include three students — one selected by the Undergraduate Student Government, one selected by the Council of Graduate Students and one selected by the Inter-Professional Council.

We challenge the university to never again allow students to become an afterthought at an institution that is built around – and for – them. The big picture of the university might have been focused on transitions over the course of the last year, but students spend a limited number of years on campus. OSU shouldn’t forget to recognize the importance of the small moments, the things students will remember.

After all, we are the donors of tomorrow.


  1. As a parent of a student at OSU, I too feel students are being placed on the back burner.

  2. By the time students walk up to get their diplomas, they should be quite intelligent. They should be quite mature, and they should be quite open minded. Nobody thinks the commencement speaker will be here to expound his “political views” and, according to my research, Chris Mathews is a middle-of-the-roader, not an extremist. I am certain that the committee will be brought back next fall. Once you get your first job, live in the real world, and stop being young and cute you will really experience the sensation of not being first and foremost, so I hope you all can find partners who love you a LOT!

  3. I don’t understand why the sentence “Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews” was selected as the speaker, to the dismay of many students who disagree with his political views.” was placed in there. Some group of individuals will always take issue with the speaker. Reagan, Bush, Obama, Shimon Peres, etc

  4. We will rock you

    If you are intelligent, don’t worry about a “bad” commencement speaker. You can still listen without throwing out your values.

  5. Product Design, 1990

    Ed Jennings was my commencement speaker. I survived.

  6. Hiding behind the “Lantern Staff” name… basically you used this article to complain about the commencement speaker. Get over it.

  7. What’s next, Hannity as the next commencements speaker. How about Al Sharpton. Maybe Ann Coulter. Is that what our great university has come to by allowing a bunch of political hacks to speak at a graduation ceremony? How sad.

  8. Chris Matthews isn’t coming to OSU with the purpose of pissing off all the Republicans in the Horseshoe that day! He knows the day is about the graduates. He’ll crack a few jokes but will probably have a message about the value of a career in politics or of serving the public in some way. That’s my bet but let’s just let him speak and complain IF AND ONLY IF if he goes up there and goes on a rant. Again, doubtful.

  9. This is why I don't read the Lantern

    You had the opportunity to point out some major areas of improvement for the university in this editorial, and all you can muster is a pathetic and thinly-veiled complaint about the Spring commencement speaker? Embarrassing.

  10. I graduated back in 2002 and had to endure a speech from a sitting president who I and many students vehemently disagreed with. A man who was and has been the worst president of our life time and yet it still was an amazing day because I received my diploma from the amazing Ohio State University. I dont’ remember a word from the speech by GWB as I tuned it out. The same can be done here. You could have done much worse than getting one of the country’s most well known media members.

  11. I think you have a valid overall point though…this university is only here because of the students and I feel like the university is starting to forget that. They need to ask students’ opinions whether about the commencement speaker or getting rid of Gee. So what if he made one offensive comment (I’m catholic and thought it was funny!)? He was someone who genuinely cared for the student body and that made him legendary.

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