The University of Baltimore has invited Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, to be the fall commencement speaker. Secretary DeVos accepted the invitation which sadly but predictably triggered a lot of social justice warriors. As soon as the news went public many people voiced their objections. While it is sad that people get so angry over Betsy DeVos speaking at their graduation it’s refreshing to see a university disregard the controversy to have a qualified person speak. The University of Baltimore President, Kurt Schmoke issued a statement regarding the controversy:
First, I extended the invitation to Secretary DeVos in January of this year, and she accepted shortly thereafter. In my letter of invitation I afforded her the opportunity to use the event to not only congratulate our graduates but to also present her views on higher education issues of her choice. Second, I anticipated the reaction both pro and con to my decision to invite her. It is the type of reaction that one would expect to have in a vibrant university community. Third, after reading about events at other universities where persons were denied the right to speak because some on campus opposed the views of the speaker, I became convinced that the University of Baltimore was the right institution to affirm the academy’s commitment to freedom of speech.
There are a number of notable details in this statement. First of all, this was an intentional choice. DeVos was a controversial nomination at the time given the divide in our country. The second was the freedom of allowing her to speak freely on relevant topics. And the third was the anticipation of such controversy. No doubt this was a predictable controversy. Free speech is under attack at universities all around the country. From Berkeley to Missouri and North Carolina, liberals are suppressing the free flow of ideas necessary for the betterment of the university system. In business management classes, one should learn that groupthink is bad for decision making and teamwork. The University of Baltimore seems to have applied this lesson when so many colleges disregard what they teach. This statement embodies what a university should be: people who are passionate about some controversy but still standing up for the First Amendment.
I understand students getting upset if this was Bill Cosby, Woody Allen, or Hillary Clinton. The first two have performed shady and unacceptable behavior. The other would take at least four kids worth of tuition to deliver the speech. While one can argue that it might have been tasteless for Liberty University, a Christian university, to have Trump do the commencement speech, Betsy DeVos delivering a commencement speech at a public university is a well-qualified honor. For some reason, liberals fear her, and this irrational fear causes them to go crazy with the idea of her giving a speech. We should not let the liberal whines determine who is and isn’t an acceptable commencement speaker. College should be an open forum of ideas, not a forum for liberal groupthink dogma. Well done, UB!