We, the concerned students of the University of Michigan, are protesting University President Mary Sue Coleman’s selection of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder as keynote speaker for Spring Commencement because we feel that his policies, as governor, are antithetical to the principles of the University and to our own moral and political principles. We know that this state is hurting from the nation’s economic woes — but the answers to our problems aren’t going to solved by asking even more sacrifice from those already hurting most from the financial trouble of the state and nation.
Snyder’s planned budget proposes essentially a redistribution of wealth from the poor and elderly to big businesses, a far cry from the “shared sacrifice” he likes to talk so much about. While taxes for the poor and elderly will increase, businesses will receive a cool 86-percent decrease in their taxes. In addition, Snyder proposes cutting funding to higher education by 15 percent and even plans to get rid of tax deductions for donations to public universities like the University. So why, since he is such an ardent opponent of public education, has Snyder been invited to lecture us? But Snyder’s abhorrent policies don’t stop with his budget. House Bill 4214, the so-called “Emergency Financial Managers” legislation, poses a grave and unprecedented threat to democracy in our state. That Snyder and his administration think they know better than duly elected officials and should have the right to dismiss any local official, abolish local laws and even abolish municipalities is ludicrous and asinine. And yet, this isn’t a George Orwell novel — this is real life, this is what Snyder is working to accomplish.
We’re protesting, then, to let Snyder, Coleman, the University regents and everyone else know that we — the students of the University of Michigan — don’t want Rick Snyder to speak at OUR commencement.