On Monday I signed the petition protesting Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s participation in the University’s 2011 Spring Commencement. I did so because I’m quite appalled by his opening salvo of anti-education and pro-business policies. However, upon further thinking about the petition itself, I realize today that I regret signing it.

A fundamental part of being a member of a university community is encouraging discourse, listening respectfully to individuals with whom we even vehemently disagree. For me this is a non-negotiable bedrock principle of American cultural and intellectual life. The petition’s desire to reject Snyder — and, strangely, any sitting public official from commencement speech consideration — does us all a disservice. It suggests that Michigan students shouldn’t be trusted to listen, process, accept and, indeed, dissent. On the contrary, I feel these are, in fact, the very abilities graduating American scholars should gather to celebrate.

Nick Harp
English Department lecturer

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