When Princeton announced Marshawn Lynch as their senior “Class Day” speaker, students were less than pleased with the choice of the speaker. The decision to bring Lynch in as a speaker spurred them on to express their displeasure with the university. Several students decided to write an op-ed piece directed towards Princeton University’s co-chairs explaining why they are unhappy with the selection of Super Bowl champion. The students wrote, “Many of us were disappointed when we saw that this year’s speaker was to be Marshawn Lynch, mainly because we did not feel included in the process by which this speaker was nominated and finally selected.”
The students felt there were many holes in the process used to make this selection and proceeded to poke at them one by one. The first issue is that they feel as if the school has failed at creating proper criteria that could determine the best nominee. They compared the selection of Lynch to their last two speakers, Ellie Kemper and Senator Cory Booker, who have the proper qualifications to speak to them. These students value speakers that they feel are relatable and can connect to them. Kemper is a Princeton alumna who has been a member of multiple clubs during her time there and while Booker isn’t alumni, they deem him to be an “exceptional communicator” whose association with New Jersey connects him to Princeton. It is unclear whether the students were apart of the decisions to have those people speak but they felt those were good decisions. They are unsure regarding Lynch even though his success and philanthropic efforts are on par with Princeton’s speakers of the past. The students wrote, “In the selection of Marshawn Lynch, however, it is not evident what the set of criteria for nomination are.”
Their next issue was Marshawn Lynch’s history with the media and his lack of engagement at press conferences. For anyone not familiar with Marshawn Lynch, he is a powerful running back on the field but is a man of few words off the field. This rare dichotomy was best shown during the media week of Super Bowl XLIX when he was playing for the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch was known to skip interviews altogether, so the NFL threatened him with fines if he didn’t show up for interviews during Super Bowl week. Not only did Lynch show up but he answered all the questions given to him… the same exact way. “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” instantly became the most popular phrase of 2015. While some may say there is a difference between answering questions from the media and giving a speech to college students, Lynch’s history with the media does not give the students of Princeton any confidence that he’ll be a better public speaker.
While it may seem that the issue is solely against Marshawn Lynch, he is not the target of their main gripe. The root of their issue stems from the perceived lack of respect from the university’s co-chairs. The students felt as if they deserved to have a say in this selection. There was a lack of communication between the school and the students for this speaker compared to the other events that required selection like the Class Day jacket or the Student Speaker Initiative. They believe “participation and feedback should be solicited from the senior class” so that they don’t end up with a speaker that fails to “represent a broad-enough range of perspectives.”
With all that said, it doesn’t seem as if the letter is going to change anyone’s mind this year, so they might as well show up and listen to what Marshawn Lynch has to say so they don’t get fined.