Thursday, January 10, 2008

Walking On

To the members of the University of Michigan's Class of 2008,

In reading over the last two days about (Freep and Detnews for starters) the email regarding the move of Michigan's Spring commencement exercises to the campus of Eastern Michigan University, it is very clear that there is a palpable anger about this change, particularly among the members of your class. Though graduation wasn't that big a deal to me (I skipped Spring 2000 to play in a national championship tournament and, instead, graduated in Winter 2000 at Crisler and really, I don't feel any worse for it.), but I know others feel different...(like, for instance, my mother. But I digress...)

In my read, it's clear that there are two components to the issue:
1). Graduation will not be held in Michigan Stadium.
2). Graduation will be held instead at Rynearson Stadium in Ypsilanti.

On the first point, I certainly cannot say I blame you about being upset about not getting the chance to say goodbye to Michigan at Michigan Stadium. It's a change, it's a disappointment, but it's also a reality. Many of you are trying to use this manifest anger to find some sort of compromise that keeps graduation on campus, and I applaud that. Rational examination and constructive planning will be more likely to affect a positive outcome for your class. That said, you may not get what you want, and while there is some sorrow in that, it's also a reality of life. This is also the danger of Facebook and its ilk; your comments, made in the heat of your initial anger are forever recorded for posterity, waiting to be gobbled up by media outlets and bloggers looking for easy and cheap research on the topic.

But it is on the second point to which I'd caution the direction that some of your anger seems to be taking. The insults, denigration, and whining about the ceremony being at Eastern are highly unbecoming. Eastern Michigan graciously offered to assist Michigan when it asked for its help and now is being treated by many of you as some kind of second class citizen, at best. This is not going to be constructive, but will, instead, cast your class in the eyes of many as one of elitist whiners and crybabies who think you're better than everyone else, including EMU. Often as Michigan students and alumni, we wonder why people denigrate us for an attitude of elitism, and yet we seem to be willing to ignore when we bring that denigration upon ourselves. It's not merely enough to say "No offense to Eastern/Ypsi, but..." and think that your offense will be ignored or forgiven. Even if your issue is not with graduation being on Eastern's campus, but rather that it's not on Michigan's campus, that is not how this issue is being seen. I'd like to think that most of you did not intend to offend, because you see this as an internal affair of Michigan campus politics and that no one else would care, but part of being a member of the Michigan community is that your actions and words are scrutinized by many in the state. You have the intellect and the knowledge to make better choices, hopefully you can mix in dose of wisdom to realize that discretion is quite often the better part of valor.

So, if you'll forgive an old man for trying to help, if you want to make a change, focus your energy on keeping Michigan's graduation in the Big House or at least on campus, which is most likely what you want. Be courteous, think about how you feel and how it might be perceived by people, both inside and outside the Michigan community. Be thoughtful and understand the realities of the situation. Be clear about what you want and understanding if you cannot get it. Thank you and good luck as you begin your last semester in Ann Arbor.

Craig Barker
Michigan '00

1 comment:

Johnny Action Space Punk said...

Easy and cheap research? Why my good man I'll have you know I had to go through the painstaking Facebook registration process.

Good post on this by the way. I've seen a few good U-M alum postings on this topic. All with sage advice of thinking before you rage.

I do sincerely hope that they can work something out so they can walk on the campus SOMEWHERE.