This year’s Class Day speaker will be nothing less than the paradigm of parental perfection. Tim Russert, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, will be addressing our fair seniors from the stage of Tercentenary Theatre—and we can guarantee that it will be squeaky clean. In an attempt to avoid an Ali G style muck-up, the Alumni Association, Deans of the College, along with other members of the administration, have expressed their displeasure with last year’s lewd Class Day and “requested” that the Senior Class Committee avoid comedians in this year’s ceremony. The not-so-subtle intervention of the administration is unfair to the Class of 2005 and detracts from what ought to be a student-focused day.
Make no mistake: we have no fear that Tim Russert will be anything other than a great Class Day speaker, so students should not feel they are stuck with second best. As the host of the most-watched Sunday morning news program in America, Russert will offer an insightful, measured, and necessary perspective for graduating seniors. To top it off, Russert is the winner of numerous “Best Father” awards—certainly not something Ali G could put in his résumé.
But despite our faith in Russert, we disapprove of the way he was chosen. Traditionally, Class Day is a less formal, student-focused celebration of the senior class at the College. This year, the event will break from its student-centered past, reflecting more the desires of the administration than the students. This is a problem in itself. Thus, many seniors are displeased with the Russert decision because of the administration’s heavy-handed involvement in the issue.
The administration’s implied moratorium on comedians is also troubling. It is true that Ali G crossed the line last year, making inappropriate comments at an event attended by unassuming parental figures and family. But preventing the Class of 2005 from having a comedian, as is tradition, at its Class Day is tantamount to punishing them for the missteps of one comedian. This is unfair and unnecessary. If graduates demand a comedian, there is no reason why they should not get one.
Class Day is the one respite from the splendid Harvardian pretension of our graduation ceremonies. Through its undue influence, the administration has changed the nature of this important event. We look forward to Tim Russert’s address, but trust that the administration will return to Class Day its right to self-determination.