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Letter to the editor: Rob Portman speaking at commencement is ‘insulting’

Senator Rob Portman introduces Vice President Mike Pence at Dynalab, Inc. in Reynoldsburg on April 1. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Former Photo Editor

With much respect and gratitude to Ohio State, having been a student here for the past 4 1/2 years, I must speak out against our upcoming commencement speaker on Dec. 17. By allowing Sen. Rob Portman the honor of holding a platform at Ohio State, disrespect is cast upon more than half of the graduating class. Portman has been extremely vocal about his lack of respect for women’s and minority rights. He has worked avidly against the Paycheck Fairness Act, the Affordable Care Act, Planned Parenthood and a number of others to further oppress women and minorities who are already marginalized in the United States.

As Ohio State is a historically accepting and progressive university, women have been included in the university since its inception in 1870. The decision to allow a man with these views to speak is hypocritical, insulting and insincere.

Maureen Flanagan, fifth-year in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


  1. So by refusing to support government expansion and the welfare state, he is somehow oppressing minorities and women? You’d think after 5 years of University you would know what actual oppression is.

  2. He just voted for a tax reform bill that, among other things, did away with the student loan deduction and taxes tuition waivers for graduate students as income. He’s no friend of higher education and has no place at the graduation ceremony. Not only should he not be honored in this way, but he should be publicly shamed by the entire student and faculty community.

  3. What an honor for our great university to bring in Senator Rob Portman as a commencement speaker. Darn good choice.

  4. Maureen, Let’s examine your complaints one by one.
    The Paycheck Fairness Act is a Democratic straw man argument. These sorts of things are often forwarded in DC by the minority party – think of the number ACA repeal votes taken during the Obama administration. You should know that recent studies challenge the need for this legislation such as studies by Bloomberg https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-12/new-gender-pay-gap-studies-are-challenging-conventional-wisdom and others that reflect career and lifestyle choices made by women which affect their earning.
    ACA likewise is/was a purely Democratic Party measure passed on pure party line vote and designed to introduce socialized medicine to the US. Now, you may not have lived with socialized medicine before but I have (for 12 years) and it works well for routine issues such as visits to you family doctor and the emergency room. Where it has problems is when the treatment is expensive, the condition is rare, the perceived benefit is low or the demand is high. Any of these could apply to you and in a socialized system you don’t get to make a choice about how to treat the condition – the government makes the choice for you.
    Finally you object to his lack of support for Planned Parenthood. This is a private organization. Why should they be supported through tax dollars? Their main source of income is well known and there is no threat to access contraception by withdrawing support to them.
    In short you sound like you wish to be insulted. Senator Portman represents all of us in the state and not just your views.

    Merry Christmas.

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