So I was reading on the SUU's newspaper's website today that the 2009 commencement speaker is the Mormon Church President Thomas S. Monson. This to me is a awful choice on behalf of the school, and a few of us from SUU who aren't mormon were talking about it, so I decided to blog about it as well.
Now my personal feelings aside for the Mormon church, I can see why a lot of people are angry about it. Not being from Utah, no one here in Wisconsin (aside from those who are mormon) know who this man is. You cannot claim he has done many things outside of the religion to make him a well-renouned man. Last year's speaker won a Nobel Prize, all of Monson's awards are State given, and his time with President Reagan was short lived. Yes state-wide awards, being that it is a school in Utah, would make him a great choice for speaker. But I am sure there are many many people in the state who have just as many awards. One really can't argue against the fact that Monson's claim to fame is his religious deeds.
On top of that, being that SUU is a public institution, one should not feel like they have to be subjected to a certain religion. Again, yes any LDS person should have every right to speak at graduation, but for reasons other than religion seeing that this is a public institution. Yes its widely known if you go to Utah, people are mormon and you need to understand that. But when it is something REQUIRED (we all know you have to be crowning with a baby or on your deathbed to get out of graduation) is that really fair? I HATE the argument that "oh it's Utah, you should deal with everything revolving around the LDS church". I don't recall having to sign a piece of paper agreeing to that.
I would be embarassed to have my family come to the ceremony if this was the speaker last year when I graduated. My brother even said today that he wouldn't have come (he quite enjoyed the Global Warming rant from last years graduation ha ha) because it would make him really uncomfortable (he's not a religious person). Maybe Monson won't say a single thing pertaining to religion, and I'm sure it will be a great speech, as this man is widely known as a good story teller. But when an issue such as Proposition 8 is so prevalent in today's world, as well as the mormon church's involvement in this issue, isn't this kind of a slap in the face to those who are gay, lesbian, transgender, or have family members who are? I am all for gay marriage, hey it comes down to what happens in the bedroom which is none of my business (ok I do think the issue should have some boundaries, like if a mormon bishop doesn't want to marry a gay couple he should be able to say no without legal action being brought against him), but really is this the time for a speaker from a religion that is so prominent in this issue? Afterall SUU is in hot water with issues pertaining to LGBT issues with the little transgender dorm room placement issue from last year.
I've been told many students are planning on walking out when he starts to speak and/or receives his honorary degree. I say it will be a good thing, and honestly, if this was last year, I'd probably walk out too. Though I imagine the Administration will get wind of this long before the ceremony and decide to take action against those who do.
I realize this may offend 99% of the people who read my blog, and I really want to say this isn't a slam against the mormon church, and I do respect the LDS church a lot (and those of you who belong, and this is my blog I can say what I want). I just think its a really poor choice by the SUU administration. On top of that they're saying that its going to be packed beyond capacity by all the people in the area wanting to come here monson speak. Can you imagine if someone like my parents who travelled almost 2000 miles to see it weren't able to get a seat because of people who had no interest in the ceremony beyond the fact it's the mormon church president? Last year the Centrum was packed, and so I can't imagine what the influx of community could do. Granted yes the community has a right to be there since its a public institution, but again how many will come to see the actual commencement of the graduates?
Maybe I have no right to blog about this, as it doesn't personally affect me. I'm just kind of disgusted lately at things like this. And yes you can argue that one should be open to all things including hearing LDS speakers. In Wisconsin, that argument might be a fair one for many don't know about being LDS, but when you're in Utah, you know that pretty much everything revolves around being or not being LDS.
One of the people I was talking to kept saying "seperation of church and state". It made me laugh cause a few years ago at BYU they demonstrated cause Dick Cheney was their graduation speaker. A politician going into a church school. This is the reverse ha ha, a church man going into a public school.
Maybe Utah just needed another stir-up to keep things exciting.
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