I’m asking seniors — and anyone else as a show of support — to sign a document, which says you intend to boycott the Class Day address if Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the speaker. There are many legitimate reasons for signing, but the most important is this: The class day speaker should be someone who doesn’t engender the ire of approximately 20 percent of Yale’s graduating class.
Regardless of any boycott, there are many seniors who simply will not go. There will be many others who go, highly displeased.
A Class Day address has many roles, not the least of which is to bring all seniors together as one graduating class. It should unify us as it marks our departure.
Hillary simply can’t do that. Neither can Attorney General John Ashcroft, and for that reason, I would oppose his selection too, even though I might enjoy hearing him speak. If you would boycott Ashcroft, a graduate of Yale, then maybe you can understand why some of us would like to boycott Clinton.
Last year a large minority of Yale’s graduating class refused to spend dead weak at Myrtle Beach because the NAACP was boycotting the state. Virginia Beach was proposed as an alternative destination. Unfortunately, some seniors had already made reservations at Myrtle, and the class splintered off to a variety of vacation spots.
Unlike the failed, last-minute efforts of the Myrtle Beach controversy, this year’s senior class has a real option of selecting someone else. I’m not suggesting the anti-Hillary and the anti-Myrtle Beach campaigns are morally equivalent, only that the legitimate objections of a large percentage of the senior class should be respected so that we can graduate as one class.
Of course, there are many Yale students who can hardly imagine any legitimate reason to object to Hillary — and are horribly offended by the comparisons to John Ashcroft and Myrtle Beach. I’d like to suggest some reasons for disliking Hillary, in the hopes that even her most passionate defenders might at least acknowledge the legitimacy, if not the truth, of our position.
The Class Day speaker should be someone we can all admire. She should not be so politically calculating that she simply won’t say anything even remotely controversial. She should not blame the truth about her husband on ideological opponents. She should care about “undercapitalized businesses.” She should not think that half of America is evil simply because they oppose her crusade (to get elected).
Even if she did believe that, she should not so obviously treat that half as if they were evil. She should not act as if her own career is so important that a pattern of serious scandals becomes irrelevant by comparison. She should be able to speak more quickly than a pre-recorded phone message and without the pedantry.
The last three scheduled Class Day speakers — Bob Woodward, Kofi Annan and Tom Brokaw — all embody the above characteristics. It’s not hard to find someone else like them. How about Hillary’s equally liberal colleague Paul Wellstone?
If Clinton is replaced, then no one will have to boycott anything. Remember how pliant Yale can be when faced with serious opposition to its decisions. When Hazel Carby, the head of the African American Studies program, resigned over the comments of Yale President Richard Levin, her program was promoted to a full department the next week.
I really do believe Yale will choose someone else if enough people sign. But even if some of us do end up boycotting Hillary’s speech, remember that it’s only one of four major graduation ceremonies and that she will most likely bore you to tears.
Daniel Mindus is a senior in Trumbull College.