Geoffrey Canada Who?

I hate to rain on the parade, but Colgate really let down the senior class with their choice of Commencement speaker. 1999 got Bill Cosby, 2001 got Dan Rather, 2006 got Eliot Spitzer, 2007 got Bob Woodruff. We get Canada? I really wish that I didn’t have to do extensive research to find out who this person is. While not to disparage Canada’s formidable accomplishments, I’m not really sure which senior would have nominated him for the keynote address. However, just having many accomplishments doesn’t necessarily qualify you to be a speaker. Why can’t we get someone we’ve heard of?

According to the Colgate website, Canada is “considered one of the most eminent minds in the nonprofit realm.” Excuse me, but the last thing that Colgate wants is for its seniors to work for non-profits. After all, if you work for a non-profit, chances are you are not going to have any money left over to donate to your alma mater. Let’s put away the ideal of doing something you love to do. Colgate wants you to do something that makes money. I better not hear anything about Canada “embodying” the values of Colgate. That would be an insult to Canada. He is far too philanthropic, generous and noble to embody Colgate’s selfish priorities.

Dear old Colgate prefers the fields that breed the big donors. You know, doctors, lawyers and investment bankers. It’s amazingly obvious that this is the direction Colgate pushes its students. Seniors know this. If you were to base future job prospects solely on Colgate job fairs and information sessions, you would be lead to believe investment banking, law and medicine are the world’s only fields. Of course these are not the only fields in the world. After graduation, alumni go on to do a wide range of things, but Colgate does everything it can to push you in a certain direction while you are still on campus. Colgate discourages its students from entering low-income jobs that they may love. Unfortunately, for many seniors, the term “non-profit” will characterize the internships we have next year, not our long-term career path.

A Commencement address is not an ordinary speech. In keynotes, who says the words is more important than what the words say. I doubt that many members of the class of 1999 remember what Bill Cosby said to them, but they certainly remember who spoke.

This article wasn’t about Canada, but about Colgate letting down its students. Do we need to remind the administration of the price of tuition? Colgate students should expect the same from their school that the school expects from them. When I half-ass an assignment I fully expect to get a bad grade. With their “choice” of commencement speaker, Colgate tries to pass off a failure as a success.