Just as surprising as it was for you to hear about it, it was equally surprising to Princeton University students who decided to take action by writing an op-ed in the student publication bemoaning the choice.
“As seniors, we had been looking forward to the speaker announcement for months,” the letter reads. “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.
It goes without saying that Lynch has had an incredibly impressive career as an NFL football player and as a social activist. He has given back to his home community of Oakland through many philanthropic activities and has organized football clinics around the world. However, saying that Lynch has “unapologetically embodied and advocated for our own identities and values” (as stated in the University’s official Instagram post) without actually consulting us, the Princeton community, is paradoxical and thus questionable. We do not mean to criticize this choice of speaker in particular, but rather want to call attention to the opaque selection process for Class Day speakers.
On receiving the email about the speaker announcement, members of the senior class who were not aware of Lynch tried to learn more about his identity and relevance to our Class Day ceremony. Among articles that praised his NFL career and philanthropic contributions, we came across articles discussing Lynch’s reticence with the media and his terse responses at press conferences. In 2013 and 2014, for example, Lynch was fined $50,000 and $100,000 for refusing to speak to the media. During the 2015 Superbowl Media Day, Lynch famously responded to multiple questions with variants of “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” With no other frame of reference, such reports caused confusion over the set of criteria that led to his nomination.
We feel that the selection committee did not represent a broad-enough range of perspectives and did not try to compensate for this by notifying the senior class of intermediate steps in the selection process. The selection committee should have solicited our feedback on the final shortlisting of the potential candidates. If it did attempt to do so, it did not reach many of us, which is also an issue.”
Neither Princeton University nor Lynch have publicly responded to the open letter.
Lynch has never cared what people think about him, plus he just might be preoccupied with whether he will be coming back to play for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020.
Coach Pete Carroll told News Tribune: ‘We’ll see…Never say never. I’m not going to rush him back to offseason, that’s for sure. That’s never been one of his strengths.’
Lynch retired for the second time in 2017 after playing with the Oakland Raiders for two seasons.
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