Obama/Roth ’08

Obama kicked ass at today’s commencement ceremony, as you might imagine. But the new Wes prez Michael Roth ambled into the limelight by making what I consider to be a pretty awesome speech as well. (You can watch it, along with Obama’s speech, here.)

Roth said, among other things, this:

“If you engage in serious politics of change, if you participate in the struggle for social justice and sustainable economic growth, I believe we *can* change course…This year’s graduates, like Wesleyan alumni before you, will contribute to shaping our culture in the future — because otherwise it will be shaped by people for whom creativity and change, freedom and equality, diversity and tolerance are much too threatening. We are counting on you to help shape our culture so it will not be shaped by forces of oppression and violence.

[…] Wesleyan University resists that violence. You will hear people tell you that the greatest protection against violence is surveillance, that greater security is to build higher fences to keep out the foreigners and that we must project violence on distant shores to keep our homes safe. DO NOT BELIEVE THESE MESSAGES.

Please remember that your education stands in opposition to nonsense and cruelty. Please recall your capacity to create when others around you call for destruction…When you persist in expanding your knowledge, when you continue to find new ways to create positive change, then you will feel the power and the promise of your education.”

Fuck yeah. Go Wes!

I experienced (as you can see) a nostalgic surge of school spirit as an alumnus coming back to campus for the first time — essentially, my friend Kimberly pointed out, this was nationalist fervor. During much of my time as a Wes student I was stressed out, lethargic and/or absorbed in personal drama. I was too busy for school spirit. But today I must admit that I got fired up! A school whose president promotes non-violence and encourages you “to reject the status quo, to build a politics of hope and community rather than fear and divisiveness…to become productive idealists” is pretty freaking awesome.


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One Response to “Obama/Roth ’08”

  1. David Says:

    That’s cute how they both researched the Wesleyan in-jokes to pepper their addresses.

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