Several weeks ago, a group of seniors published an op-ed in which they called for a reformation to the Class Day speaker selection process. The letter cites a lack of transparency within the selection process, and has since been picked up by various national media outlets, including ESPN and USA Today. While the original intent of the letter was to call attention to the selection process of the speaker himself, the argument has since shifted to a question of our approval of Marshawn Lynch. As seniors who feel misrepresented by the original op-ed and the ensuing national media attention, we feel that we have an obligation to publicly respond.
One immediate issue within the op-ed is the lack of a numerical value associated with the set of anonymous seniors who contributed to the piece. By excluding a quantifiable value, the writers and editors have created a sense of ambiguity regarding the article’s support; this in turn, has called into question the level of approval for Lynch within the senior class as a whole. As readers will see by the support below, there are plenty who openly defend the choice; however, we will never know how many are opposed.
Regarding their hesitation toward Marshawn Lynch, we disagree with the notion that speakers should share a connection with the University. While being able to relate to the students through a more personal level has its advantages, we feel that the story of the individual themselves is what should be most important. The piece highlights the work Lynch has done within his community; why should that be neglected because he never slept in a Princeton dorm or dined at Wilcox?
The group then qualifies the above criteria by allowing those unaffiliated with the University to speak should they be considered “exceptional communicators,” citing Cory Booker as one example. Identifying Marshawn Lynch as someone who is outside the realm of “exceptional communicators” is not only disrespectful and elitist but also misconstrues his past actions. The interview at Super Bowl Media Day highlighted within the op-ed is given no context; Lynch was defended by his coaches and teammates for adhering to league rules, while at the same time making a statement against the relationship between players and the media, which is dictated by the NFL and not the players. Additionally, the letter does not stop to consider the power Lynch displays in controlling his own narrative by refusing to speak. What the op-ed also fails to mention is how, in other settings, Lynch has passionately discussed his interests off the field, including on 60 Minutes and through a documentary. By questioning his skill as an orator, the authors reveal ignorance in their understanding of the value he brings as a speaker.
While there is merit to the questions these original authors made, their motivation to do so comes from their disapproval of Marshawn Lynch as the speaker. And while their initial intent was to stir conversation within the campus community, the end result is a misrepresentation of the senior class on the national stage. We stand by the decision of the Class Day Co-Chairs and throw our unwavering support behind Marshawn Lynch.
Jackson Alexander Artis
Manuel Stefano Castaño
Marisa De Silva
Manuel Stefano Castaño
Chris Murphy is a senior from Jackson, N.J., in the ORFE Department. He is also the Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.