To the editor:
There has been controversy over the possibility of some graduates walking out on Autumn Commencement speaker Sen. Rob Portman on Sunday. Some have said that while they respect the right to protest, commencement is not the right place for it.
These students are dismayed that their hard work will not be properly validated if some students walk out on the commencement speaker. They don’t want their experience to be disturbed by a protest. Others have simply said they are embarrassed to go to school with people who would do such a thing. The very nature of a protest, however, is to be disruptive.
While I have learned countless things during my time at Ohio State, quite possibly the most important value I have learned is that you cannot be complacent. Standing up for what you believe in and exercising your rights is key to a functioning liberal democracy. Portman has been unresponsive and unaccountable for his constituents, as displayed by his refusal to hold a town hall meeting during the congressional recess. With several important pieces of legislation in Congress this year, town halls and other public appearances are necessary in understanding how the people directly affected feel about them.
As a lifetime Ohio resident, I am not satisfied with the level of service he has provided me and other Ohioans. Having the senator speak at our commencement without the possibility of dialogue offers no benefit to me and others concerned with the current state of affairs.
By protesting the senator’s speech in a silent and peaceful way, we do not mean to disrespect the other graduates. I, like everyone else, have worked hard for more than four years to get to finally achieve my lifelong dream of graduating from Ohio State. I understand people want to have the best commencement they can, but politics do not stop for a ceremony.
As students, we have a special platform to voice our opinions, and for many, commencement will be their last time on this stage, so let’s use it. If you feel a similar way, join me and others by walking out when Portman is announced on Sunday.
Ryan Van Curen
Fifth-year in criminology