By J. Ferguson
Djamila Grossman/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Graduate and Professional Student Council President Elaine Ulrich argues for a graduate student as a commencement speaker at the meeting of the commencement planning committee Wednesday.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 17, 2005
Despite complaints from some graduates who found last year's graduation speech offensive, officials have decided to follow tradition and have the student body president speak at commencement.
The Commencement Policy Committee announced their decision at a meeting last week to have Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Cade Bernsen speak at commencement in spring.
Members of the Graduate and Professional Student Council had suggested the CPC consider other student speakers for commencement, but the idea was tabled for future consideration, said Lori Goldman, chairwoman of the CPC.
The suggestion was made to the CPC following last spring's speech made by former ASUA President Alistair Chapman, said GPSC President Elaine Ulrich.
Ulrich received several complaints from graduates who were offended by Chapman's speech.
Ulrich, who attended the ceremony, said Chapman said in his speech that he was proud that he completed the crossword puzzle in the Arizona Daily Wildcat while in class.
"Any graduate student who has been a teaching assistant would be offended," Ulrich said. "He was essentially saying that students didn't need to pay attention in class."
Goldman said the GPSC's suggestion was brought to advisers and to President Peter Likins, but an ultimate decision was made to continue the tradition of having ASUA speak at commencement.
While the spring 2006 commencement student speaker has been decided, future ceremonies may feature someone other than the ASUA speaker, Ulrich said.
Ulrich said an ideal student speaker would represent the whole student body, someone who could connect with graduates as well as undergraduates.
Fernando Ascencio, Arizona Students' Association director representing the UA, and a member of the CPC, said he never received any complaints after Chapman's speech.
Ascencio said as a member of ASUA, student complaints are often directed to ASUA or referred to ASUA when made to the administration.
"I didn't feel offended," said Ascencio, who attended the speech.
Ulrich said because of the close relationship the GPSC has with the Graduate College and graduate students themselves, complaints would be directed to them.
"The only thing we do is serve them," Ulrich said. "We are going to get their complaints."