Rutgers Graduation 2009: You Get What You Pay For – Alex Giannattasio

As Of Yet Untitled

Last week marks the graduation of the 11,430 members of the Rutgers class of 2009. Convocation was not one cohesive event; at Rutgers, each of the many sub-schools has traditionally held its own commencement ceremony, and this year was no different. Rutgers actually hosted 27 convocation ceremonies over the course of the week by my count.[1] Being a member of Rutgers College, I was joined by 2500+ fellow liberal arts students on the lawn of Voorhees Mall last Thursday. I’ve attended the State University of New Jersey for four years now, years spent as Student Number 010004747. I must say, if I had any pretentions of being treated as an individual by the administration before the ceremony, I had none by the time I arrived. I went out like I came in: just a number among thousands.

Originally, 2009 was intended to be the last time that Rutgers-New Brunswick would accommodate separate ceremonies. Starting in 2010, every graduating member of RU-NB was to be herded together into the what would be then, newly completed football stadium for a massive one-time commencement ceremony. Rutgers, determined to exhibit the product of its $100million+ stadium expansion plan, would honor its graduates in the same manner it entertains them: with spectacle. But if you were hoping for your name to be read out loud, or your hand to be shaken, or your parents to be able to pick you out from the 10,000+ strong crowd (that is, if you were hoping to graduate with dignity) you would have been \ fresh out of luck. In the last months of the past semester, the Daily Tragum’s opinion pages were peppered with articles about the commencement consolidation, not a single one in favor of the goal. This was one issue where the Targum was wholly successful in presenting students’ sentiments of anger and frustration. After significant student protest, climaxing in the presentation of a petition to President McCormick, the University agreed to grant the class of 2010 the honor of traditional, individualized ceremonies by school. I applaud the University for heeding the voices of its students. But after experiencing the traditional graduation myself, I have to question whether the hullabaloo was really all that necessary. Let me show you what I mean, by recounting some of my experience.

The day began for me, as for many, with a private parent-arranged photo session in a friend’s backyard. We stood around smiling in our black robes, exchanging nervous complements, as the sun (with the temperature) rose. By the time we set off for the ceremony, it was pushing 75 degrees. Who ordered those stuffy black robes anyway?

When we arrived at Olde Queens campus for our pre-ceremony instructions, we were shepherded into rows and organized alphabetically. I was astounded by the efficiency with which the administration handled the task: each student was given an index card with his or her name on it, along with a place number. That day, I was #815. Remarkably, we were organized in a timely fashion, and began the procession at 1:45 sharp. It took us a good 45 minutes just to get all the students seated, the whole time in a sweltering heat. A covered stage faced us, flanked by two jumbo screens for the purpose of making our sweaty faces visible to the audience.

Dean Carl Kirschner, perhaps the least funny man at Rutgers, acted as Master of Ceremonies (the President was nowhere to be seen). But unfortunately for all of us, he decided to adopt the role of a standup comedian. From where I was sitting, he drew only tired groans from the audience; one of the more obnoxious jokes he tried regarded the recent swine flu crisis. Fearing the potential of a Rutgers graduation ceremony to spark a new ground zero for the widely expected epidemic, the traditional hand shake from the dean was to be discarded, and so Dean Kirschner thought it would be appropriate to present a few options for avoiding the contagion. He pulled out a series of gloves, and proceeded to sport them for the audience: latex, rubber, a Mickey Mouse hand, and finally, a red foam sports finger. That joke in particular was received with a sweeping sigh and a collective eye roll from the students.

The convocation speaker, Mary Baglivo, class of ’79, sought to encourage Rutgers students by recounting her time at Rutgers. Her main thesis was this: “Rutgers is Grit, Guts, and Genius.” Let’s disregard the fact that such a trite and simplistic marketing metaphor makes very little sense to begin with. And forget about the fact that Baglivo boldly assumed that every Rutgers student in front of her had voted for President You-Know-Who (I certainly didn’t)– I have another problem. The program listed Baglivo as CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, an international advertising company. What it failed to mention was that Baglivo also happens to be a Dean at Rutgers, as well as a member of the Board of Governors. I thought key note convocation speakers were supposed to be off the University payroll. I suppose at least they managed to save a few bucks by using her…

Two student leaders also were given the chance to speak to the audience: Melody Wilding and Dymir Arthur. In the student section, impressed oohs and ahhs for Melody’s 4.0 GPA were quickly replaced by mocking sniggers at the announcement of her majors: American Studies and Psychology. At Rutgers, the students at least know which majors constitute real work, and which constitute mostly movie watching. Both of Melody’s majors are of the latter kind. I thought Dymir, for his part, did an excellent Barack Obama impression; but for my part, I’d rather not have heard about how we should all be jumping on the change-train now that we’re graduated. This is Rutgers, not Notre Dame. Politics should be kept out of it.

After these lackluster speakers had retired the mic, it was time to start filing up to the stage to receive our “certificates of participation” (Rutgers doesn’t distribute diplomas at commencement, a fact that leaves many students wondering why they would want to attend at all). This process took a full two hours, in the by now 80+ degree heat. More than one student actually fainted waiting for their turn to get in line (luckily, there were medics on hand). Dean Kirschner’s request that the students stay seated after having their name called did nothing to stop the majority of students from simply walking out immediately afer, and by the time I had gotten down from the stage, wide swaths of empty chairs glared out at me from the student section. Having my name read out loud by some dean, who learned it for the first time just seconds before butchering it into her microphone didn’t appease me. Fears about swine flu prevented my hand from being shaken; that honor was reserved for the student speakers and excellence award winners. And you can be sure that the only time my family saw my face during the ceremony was on the jumbo-tron.

And so I’m left wondering: if I had taken part in a consolidated commencement ceremony, would anything have been different? Would the speakers have been any better? Would the heat have been any worse? Would the lack of “individual recognition” and a handshake have made for a less dignified exit to college? Would I have been any less insignificant in the eyes of the University? I doubt it. Inevitably, what matters at such a ceremony are two things: family and friends. The presence or absence of these will make or break your commencement, not the format it is delivered in. But still, time will tell if the class of 2011 decides to take the consolidation lying down…

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time here at Rutgers, it is this: you always get what you pay for. That goes for your education too. Congratulations to all of you members of the Rutgers class of 2009.

19 thoughts on “Rutgers Graduation 2009: You Get What You Pay For – Alex Giannattasio

  1. Honestly, honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that parents are all about finding milestones to take pictures of, i would have been nowhere near commencement grounds on Thursday. Not only was I completely offended by the lack of forethought this event seemed to have received (honestly you’re really not going to warn people to prepare for heat? you’re not going to find a solution to the fact that something like 1%- that’s enough people- experienced mild syncopy during this time? you’re not going to make it EASY for me to get a freaking bottle of water mid-ceremony?! screwww youuu!!), i felt downright taken advantage of. The ridiculously political nature of the entire event made me sick to the core, something that can be verified if you tried to talk to any member of the 2009 class council. Someone even mentioned to me how at the university wide commencement McCormick made some silly remark at how proud he was of our diversity statistics at Rutgers. Rutgers is in fucking New Jersey. Have you seen New Jersey lately? it’s fucking diverse, no thanks to you, Rutgers.

    Ultimately, i feel like Rutgers was trying to pat its own back at MY graduation ceremony, pumping up notion of greatness by emphasizing how their minorities, poor people, and women are doing so well, instead of giving all of us nervous graduates a chance to reminisce about our four years and feel hope for our lives in the future.

    The only people foolish enough to love this would’ve been those getting specially recognized and oblivious parents and guests. Commencement was a joke of a waste of time.

  2. i feel that most graduation ceremonies proceed in the same way this one did, with “lackluster speakers.” not that a mediocre tradition should be supported or encouraged, but at least Rutgers doesnt fall short on the totem pole.

    as for consolidation, the students made a huge effort and it paid off. after this year of faulty student representation, it actually proves that we do have a voice somewhere in the jumbled bureaucracy of the Rutgers system. ultimately though, Rutgers is washing its hands go of its traditions–traditions that were once its claim to fame. Having every name called out in a class of nearly (if not over) 1000 students is tedious in the heat of May. So yes, that tradition needs to be reorganized. But when it comes down to it, every student from 2011 forward out will miss the magic of graduating on Voorhees Mall. Theres something about that place that makes College Ave a true college campus. Theres nothing that speaks to students in the new stadium, except potential memories of drunken debauchery and shouts of “asshole” or “R…U…” Where is the acknowledgment of knowledge or intelligence in a venue like the stadium? As a student commences from school shouldnt an administration hope to encourage a memory associated with learning instead of immature shenanigans? While its understood that the administration is facing serious cutbacks and financial issues, they are getting rid of the identity of the University and encouraging a “diverse” experience at school, not necessarily a pursuit of knowledge. In moving to the stadium they are symbolically supporting Rutgers’ identity as a competitor in intercollegiate sports rather than a school so dedicated to its students that it would refuse induction into the Ivy League.

    i feel for the administration and the difficult position they hold within the construct of the University, but they should really consider the consequences of their actions as they move further from the roots of Old Queens or Passion Puddle and into a stadium that has seen little success. do you really want your students to graduate from a place devoid of positive meaning or memory? we will never be Notre Dame nor should we try, but we should embrace the dirty Jersey banks of the old Raritan.

  3. I think Alex’s title sums it up: you get what you pay for. Better schools (the expensive ones, the ivies, the top tier schools) tend to really put a lot of love and thought into their commencements. Their keynote speakers and student speakers speak from the heart and really try to get on a level with the members of the graduating class. Watching GOOD keynote speakers can be, and has been for me a moving, emotional experience. I’m sorry that this year’s ceremony was not such an experience.

  4. hmmm, nice article, this really made me consider my own graduation. i had heard about the consolidated commencement ceremony before and, since i am now in ’10, i thought that was going down. I guess not but this article leaves me just as indifferent. i mean, at first thought, i thought it’d be lame to not have my name called out because the whole point as mentioned above is for your parents to mark these milestones and just being there seems insufficient without the name calling. but, there is also the bit that i will be finished this december and have to wait all the way til may for the ceremony at which point it WILL be only because of my parents that i will be there. it’s hard to say which is better, but it seems that the way it is now is really just about the illusion of individuality because even with your name called, more than 2/3s of the people there probably don’t know you.

    but as far as being a number, it’s true, but i think you put it a bit negatively, although i suppose effectively for the question you bring up. this is because though it is such a large school, i feel you become more than a number in the groups and professors that you get involved with; in other words, there is an opportunity just as there is in a smaller community to make an impact and friendships. in fact, we do build smaller communities within the whole thing and i think even this site is proof of that. it gets to the point where it’s even asking too much. i agree that the title for this is really fitting because it’s not even that we don’t pay enough so we should be treated worse, but rather that we pay for a large school and they can only really do so much.

  5. as number 1212 and stuck sitting in the sun for the first hour or so, i should be on the wahwahgraduation side, but this just sort of reminded me of mike’s article on the RU screw. Rutgers doesn’t put much effort into anything. this was a school where you had to be proactive to do what needs to be done, and as such, it prepares you for the real world.

    while i was disappointed with the quality of the speeches, why would anyone mock melody wilding for her 4.0 gpa? how many american studies and psych majors are there out of the 2000+ students? and how many kids graduated with 4.0s? that’s besides the point though. she clearly wasn’t a psych major just because it was an easy major, but because she was making something out of it. melody wasn’t up there for her gpa, she was up there because of the extracurricular work she put in, the relationships she built with her professors, etc, all while maintaining her grades.

    Dymir also won an award and further distinguished himself (and his speech was for summing up our four years here. how can you sum it up without politics when this past year was the presidential election?). graduation isn’t about individual recognition for everyone. you’re only doing what so many of your peers are doing. if you wanted to distinguish yourself, rutgers was a great forum to do so for the last few years. it might not have held your hand through the process, but opportunities were everywhere. kids who put in a lot more effort and made a difference or wrote a great thesis were recognized. the rest of us who spent more time dicking around? why would you imagine you should be further distinguished? where is our generation getting this false sense of self-entitlement?

    you don’t get what you paid for, you get what you worked for. in a big school, you have to work that much harder to distinguish yourself. that’s life. if you don’t put in the work, than i agree with starky, a big school can only do so much.

  6. it’s not that i disagree with the fact that at a place like Rutgers, you have to work harder to get recognition or achieve greatness, regardless, the ceremony was boring and offensive. How great the speakers intentions were and whether or not they actually deserved the recognition is not the fighting point. It’s that this ceremony was a graduation ceremony for 2500 plus people, most of whom should probably never have even come to college, but they did. And this was their last day. Regardless of whether they were entitled to anything, no one really finds much joy or satisfaction listening to someone else’s emotional success story. This ceremony showed clear disparities between how they felt about those deemed successful and those that were just “normal.” or not even. There were plenty of people who were plenty involved and did plenty well for themselves through and at Rutgers, that Rutgers’ silly single standard of measurement couldn’t possibly incorporate. And really, the speakers that were chosen, really were chosen for political reasons. Rutgers went with their whole business corporation mentality and made the whole thing as impersonal as they possibly could. This is the disappointment. It’s knowing that they could actually have done a much better job, but they copped out to save money and feel proud of themselves for maintaining a school where white people are a minority (this is the statistic they flaunted in the main ceremony). gross.

  7. All of this really just makes me happy I had the good sense not to go to the Rutgers College ceremony. However, there are a few points that I’d like to discuss, although granted, I can’t speak with much authority since I wasn’t there.

    Pertaining to the speaker–I don’t know her, but I do know the American Studies department. I’m not going to sit here and cavalierly slander the entire department (my thesis adviser, Louise Barnett, is an excellent member of the faculty, to name only one), but I will say this: the curriculum gives students the leeway to choose the difficulty of their path of study, perhaps more so than any other major. Essentially, a student can choose a rigorous curriculum, as some undoubtedly do–but it is also possible to coast through the major, picking courses that don’t require a lot out of you. Some make you watch 7 movies and write one 10 page paper for a 300 level class. Just some food for thought. I’m pretty sure psych is the same way–you can choose an anatomy-heavy curriculum that will prepare you to enter dental school (possibly even med school if you blow the MCAT out of the proverbial water), but again, you can also dick around for four years and get A’s after taking 2-3 50 question multiple choice exams.

    A general disclaimer–everyone who knows me knows I’m an English major with no love lost for the lax nature of Rutgers’ curriculum in that department. I would certainly hate to hear people slander my academic accomplishments on account of my major–I feel I picked rigorous courses from among the many that prepared me for furthering my education in law school.

    However–I would have loved to hear from someone who majored in something like Bio-Chemistry. Not only would there experiences be of interest to a general audience–theirs is the field of the future, after all–but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to skate by in that major (and related fields) without rolling up your sleeves and putting in your fair share of hard work.

    As for Grace’s comment about the political nature of the ceremony–if it was anything like the University Commencement (which you can read about in the editor’s desk section this week), I’d say she was spot on. Rutgers made the commencement about furthering the university’s own interest. The day is supposed to be for honoring the student’s accomplishments. Even an American Studies major should be able to do the math on this one. It doesn’t compute.

  8. mike, what kind of law? and yep, that’s pretty much the psych department. but like you said, i simply disliked the way the article suggested that those majors mean she took easy courses and coasted her way to a 4.0.

    grace, let’s see: “How great the speakers intentions were and whether or not they actually deserved the recognition is not the fighting point.”

    that actually is my point. i chose to comment specifically on the language used in this article concerning the two student speakers and the desire for individual recognition.

    “It’s that this ceremony was a graduation ceremony for 2500 plus people, most of whom should probably never have even come to college, but they did.”

    seriously, what? why shouldn’t they have come to college?

    “no one really finds much joy or satisfaction listening to someone else’s emotional success story.”

    i for one, loved forrest gump. and why did the mighty ducks always win in the end? oh right, cause emotional success stories are great. that however, is closer to the point than the article. i wish the article had commented on her speech, which was underwhelming, rather than insinuated that she did not deserve to be up there simply due to her majors.

    “This ceremony showed clear disparities between how they felt about those deemed successful and those that were just “normal.” or not even. There were plenty of people who were plenty involved and did plenty well for themselves through and at Rutgers, that Rutgers’ silly single standard of measurement couldn’t possibly incorporate.”

    just some questions:
    1. so there should be an ambiguous disparity in treatment of those deemed successful and the others?
    2. did you wish they listed off your majors/minors/dreams for the future too? meaning, would it have been better if they read that for all 2500+ students so we all felt important for the extra few hours that would take, or do you wish that those students that Rutgers decided were successful didn’t have their information mentioned?
    3. what makes Rutgers’ standard of measurement silly, and why have we regressed to name calling? we were dealing with an exceptionally large group of graduates, what standard of measurement do they use exactly, and what would you suggest?

    as for the rest, i’ll take mike’s word for it. the part of Mary Bagliv being a Rutgers employee was disappointing. though, whatever the political nature of the ceremony was, that is beyond the scope of my previous comment and understanding.

  9. I had a long response written out before I realized that it largely reiterated what has already been said in my article. Suffice it to say that my views have remained unchanged; and I am still widely disappointed, though not surprised, with the ceremony as a whole. I don’t want to harp on any particular point; as a whole, it was exceedingly mediocre, as everything Rutgers tends to be.

    But I would like to address some of S’s questions.
    1. No one said ambiguous. The point is that a standard based on color or gender, as was the case in the selection of student speakers, is not an ideal i would seek to uphold. Rather, the standard should be academic achievement. Since when has Rutgers prided itself on its American Studies and Psych Departments? Since never, and for one very good reason: they are exceedingly easy majors, no matter how you slice it. Melody’s 4.0 is incomparable to, say, our EIC Mike’s 3.8. Being the best student in the American Studies department is like being the President of Luxembourg – easy. As far as Dymir goes, I don’t know the guy. What I do know is that his speech revolved around politics, and that he assumed us all to be liberals. As it happens, I deplore the very idea of bringing that nonsense into such a ceremony. So the standard I would have had Rutgers adopt is the one they consistently and systematically overlook – Academic Achievement. And for some reason, in New Jersey, it’s always hardest for the straight white male to get any recognition for this. If we’re going to promote diversity, we need to stop treating people (read recognizing at commencement) based on skin color, gender, or sex.

    2. No, I didn’t need my major/minor/ dreams for the future read off. But I do wish they had recognized each major as a collective (which they failed to do) and I do wish that the “dreams for the future” that were posited had been intelligent, and capable of speaking to a broad group of people, not just the blacks and the tent staters.

    3. Rutgers standard of measure, as I said, is silly because it did (and always does) take into account arbitrary factors (race, color, gender, whatever). These have no place as factors of merit in our society. I understand that we are at a transitional stage in our nations history, trying to bring minority populations up. But, as S has noted in another comment on another article, “the first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.” Rutgers’ standard is the arbitrary one. The school should get back to its roots as traditionally an excellent education, not simply the home of diversity. Like Grace said, New Jersey is diversity, no thanks to Rutgers. Rutgers is a school; I want to see more academic emphasis. No one is “name calling” (don’t really know where that came from) but just saying: color and gender are not good reasons for delivering commencement speeches, in my opinion. There are a number of ways Rutgers could have better emphasized learning and intellect. Why don’t you posit some of your own below…

  10. when i was on my hs paper, i wanted to write a piece on our rep theater casting process. what we discovered was that the girl who won the lead female role won due to her mother’s agreement (the mother had donated a lot of money to our theater program over the years) with the director that the girl would take voice lessons (from the director) over the summer. though she was a very nice girl, she wasn’t a particularly strong singer, and the success of the play became an unfortunate casualty of the entire thing. that’s politics.

    what’s not politics is assuming that since one student speaker was indian, i believe?, and the other a female, that Rutger’s standard for choosing speakers was based off of race and sex. in fact, i cant think of a combination of race and sex that would definitively suggest that Rutgers chose based off of those standards or that they didn’t, so unless you researched that fact, and have a source supporting your claim, i think you should reread your mission statement on what a johnson is supposed to be.

    Rutgers prides itself for its diversity in both its students and its fields of studies. there is no pursuit of knowledge that is below me, you or anyone. i wouldn’t call either physio or neuro psych exceedingly easy courses, and i don’t recall you easily acing general psych either. i stand by what i said about Dymir’s speech. i didn’t think it revolved around Obama or politics, nor do i think his words on hope and change at the end meant that he assumed we are all liberals. rather, those are ideas that all people rally around. even mccain at the end hopped on the change train.

    either way you slice it, both student speakers succeeded academically in their fields and distinguished themselves enough for the Rutgers faculty to take notice. again, it’s not Rutgers’ job to notice you, pick you out of a crowd and say, we’ve looked into you. there are too many students for that. it’s your job to make yourself noticed. that’s life, here and wherever you’re later employed.

    calling something silly without evidence is what i meant when i said name calling. furthermore, race and sex were not topics of your article, which from what i read, was simply a reflection on how important the location of the ceremony is, based off of your experience. in the case of Marc Ecko over Sonny Rollins, i see the politics in play, but for this? stop trying to squeeze an arm of your article into Mike’s angle for the Boat to Hell. it is a poor fit.

    i guess the awards they passed out for each field of study before reading off the rest of our names wasn’t enough emphasis on academic achievement.

    or the large section of the booklet, neatly placed on every chair, with the names of every student who won an award or wrote an outstanding thesis, doesn’t show emphasis on academic achievement either.

    “And for some reason, in New Jersey, it’s always hardest for the straight white male to get any recognition for [academic achievement].” …wow. really? and the latter part of your #2 is just racist, since you think the “dreams for the future” that were mentioned were unintelligent, and only capable of speaking to the blacks and the tent staters. if this is what you think, then i’m not surprised you found this ceremony so offensive. as for diversity being a given since we are in NJ, the College of NJ is not nearly as diverse as Rutgers (38% vs 74% for 2009). do you kids do any research before you type? or is this thread simply for you to verbally jerk each other off with i agrees?

    Rutgers is a school that teaches you more than simply academics. you learn to interact with people and studies on diversity in universities have shown that greater diversity leads to greater tolerance of other races later in life. perhaps Rutgers was clumsy in it’s boasting of what kind of university it is, but rather than focusing only on individual achievements, they tried to tie all of us in by our common thread: all of us, no matter what major, sex, race, etc were graduating from Rutgers College. Rutgers was the topic we could all rally around and feel proud of. compliments for the school are compliments for us because, for the last few years, we were the school.

    separating the ceremony into fields of study is an interesting idea. i’d wonder where the double and triple majors would fit in, but it would create a greater sense of community and familiarity to sit with people we’ve taken classes with for the past 4(+) years rather than perfect strangers. i like it.

  11. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion. But again, my feelings on the issue remain the same. I do not wish to claim that Melody and Dymir were undeserving of recognition; simply that they were chosen for reasons above and beyond their personal achievements. That is, this ceremony was about advertising Rutgers to the general assembly, not about honor its graduating students. One of those reasons was appearance; in my opinion, Dymir was chosen, at least in part, for his skin color; Melody, at least in part, for her sex. This constitutes only one facet of a ceremony fully planned as one big Rutgers advertisement. Suffice it to say that I didn’t really appreciate it. You know, Saatchi and Saatchi is an ADVERTISING COMPANY, and Baglevio’s here to improve PR. It seems to me little wonder that Dymir and Melody were chosen.

    It is always risky to speak about race and gender in contemporary American society. The common wisdom is that if you don’t have anything good to say about diversity, if you don’t approve of liberalizing policies, you must be a racist. Of course, I realize that I open myself up to such wrongly placed claims. But of course, I am not a racist. What I DONT approve of is selecting an individual for benefits or honors over and above those given to others due to arbitrary characteristics. I assume its clear that by arbitrary, I mean those things which can’t be controlled by the individual; his color, her sex, etc.

    Now you may want to refute the claim that Dymir and Melody were selected for those arbitrary reasons, at least in part. But for somebody who was there, I simply find it hard to believe. Besides, such comments (or rather observations) do not attack Dymir and Melody per say (beyond saying that their speeches sucked, and that I dobt very much these two individuals constitute the best the Rutgers College has to offer); Im sure they are very nice people. I simply mean that Rutgers is a big politically minded business, a bureaucratic behemoth: every decision it makes is political, even the planning of its commencement, the selection of its student speakers.

    Diversity is good and desirable; but not diversity of race or religion etc. These are arbitrary differences, and they say very little about the individuals in question. Rutgers SHOULD be priding itself on diversity of thought, of intellect, of culture; but here, it ALWAYS fails. As a giant corporate entity, it often can only see skin deep; as you say, it’s too big to see anything else. And as you say, it’s for the individuals in the community to distinguish themselves; not only to the administration, but to each other.

    As for research, what do you think I need to back up here? I was at commencement, I saw what happened, and you’ve read my subjective interpretation. THAT is what this site is about; you don’t have to agree, but I believe it’s you who have reverted to name calling, wouldn’t you say?

    As for general psych, which I took freshman year: for the record, I got a B+; not bad, considering I skipped half the classes. Of course, we should keep in mind, just because I criticize Melody and Dymir’s speeches doesn’t mean I believe myself a better choice. I’m sure they’re smart kids, just not very good speech writers.

  12. s, if you truly believe, deep down in your heart, that dymir and melody were the two most deserving candidates, the most aptly designated exemplary scholars that graduated class of 2009 Rutgers… well, from your experience here at the school, do you really believe that?

    As for me, their far from impressive speeches is evidence enough of the fact that they were chosen for something other than Rutgers’ perception and awareness of their success. At the end of the day, I simply feel slighted for having to listen to two people that didn’t know how to really speak to a graduating class, just because Rutgers wanted a larger, guest audience to literally see and therefore believe in, the “real” diversity at Rutgers captured by these particular students. They could’ve chosen other people, and I’m not even suggesting it be me, or someone I know, if that’s the impression you’re getting. It just seems like it probably should’ve been someone else. The selection of the keynote speaker worked in the same vein, and you seem to understand this. So I hope you can try and understand the other side of the whole commencement discussion without feeling the need to make caustic verbal jabs at the johsonville press.

  13. what i believe is that the gralex perspective is disappointingly cynical. i never disputed the underwhelming quality of the first two speeches, and fully acknowledge Mary Baglivo was an embarrassing choice, but personally, i enjoyed Dymir’s speech, though it dragged on towards the end. his speech which recounted our past four years was the point in the ceremony where we were given the chance to reflect back on all our experiences at the school. you are basing your claim based off of the choice for Mary Baglivo (which you previously states was an attempt on Rutgers part to save money) as a speaker to their picking Dymir and Melody for race and sex. i find this to be a stretch, and racists only bc the assumption comes more from you seeing his skin color and her sex, instigated more from your general negative attitude towards Rutgers from the jump. that’s your prerogative, but try to recognize that your idea did stem from you seeing such arbitrary factors. i suggested that you aren’t johnsons because such an assumption, if not based off of hard evidence, is malicious.

    if you suggest that the standard of measure for a speaker is simply academic achievement, then it’s not improbable that the speeches could disappoint. i don’t think high intelligence and hard work necessitates a positive correlation with the ability to speak publicly. for a lot of us, making speeches is something that takes practice, and i’m unsure how much previous experience either student could have had with speaking to such a large audience. i suppose it’s partially my own bias on how difficult it is to publicly speak that i give them more credit and slack than you, but then i don’t understand how you expect Rutgers to know who will be a good speaker if they are just basing it off of academic achievement.

    what i got from Melody wasn’t that she was the brightest psych major, but that she worked hard and was a sweet girl who got to know the faculty and was in full pursuit of her career of choice. what so offended me was your repeatedly nasty recap of her and my major, as if no psych major could possibly deserve to be the student speaker. and hahaha alex, are you suuuuuuuure you got a B+? too funny. either way, my faulty memory remembers you leaving for class much more than half the time, unless you were just sneaking to abp without me. foul.

    ANYWAY, i think it was obvious that what i thought you should look up was the statistics on diversity at nj colleges. gralex claimed that racial diversity at Rutgers is a given due to it being a college in NJ, which is false, and why i provided just one example of a NJ college that isn’t quite as diverse. Rutgers probably prides itself on diversity since it is the most diverse university in the US, according to usnews.com.

    “Diversity is good and desirable; but not diversity of race or religion etc. These are arbitrary differences, and they say very little about the individuals in question. Rutgers SHOULD be priding itself on diversity of thought, of intellect, of culture; but here, it ALWAYS fails.” i think both race and religion say a lot about an individual and the diversity in race and religion will produce diversity of thought and culture.

  14. and like a said before, diversity in race leads to more tolerance of other cultures, which is a rather good and desirable life lesson, i think.

  15. I think it’s safe to say, that unless any of us attend Rutgers for graduate school, we’ll never suffer to hear the word “diversity” quite as often ever again. Of course diversity of race and religion (etc) are important standards of measurement. However, what is all too often overlooked is that many of us here at Rutgers, regardless of these markers, fall into rather obvious categories. I would estimate that a good 70 +% of students and faculty identify themselves as liberals. In the English department, my thesis reader, Professor William Vesterman (great guy, also a conservative) was often overlooked and had his accomplishments underplayed because of his political affiliation within the discipline. I cite him as an example, but I have seen it happen to plenty of other teachers. It happened to me as well as a student, when I was pressured by an exceedingly liberal (and lesbionic) professor to alter my views pertaining to the dialectic between feminism and psychoanalysis. Because of my refusal to conform to her preordained ideas about an admittedly hazy subject, she almost failed me. In the end, I got a C, but only because I created a shitstorm among the deans. If that’s diversity, you can keep it.

  16. rutgers, as the state university, reflects the diversity of the state. you can’t compare it to a school like TCNJ and suggest that this means that Rutgers clearly did something to create the diversity. okay, yeah, it did, since they control the enrollment. but it’s only possible because of the students that apply from this state. if you’re going to compare it to any college, you’d have to pick one out of state. you’d notice that a lot of schools in NJ share a much higher diversity rate than some other states. this is why i didn’t bother with diversity statistics in other schools in this state.

    and while i did say that mary baglivo was chosen to save money, in the very same breath i said that she was also chosen to flaunt rutgers “diversity”. as simply racist as my argument seems, it’s actually not racism that draws me to these conclusions. if it were two white male students that gave the same speeches, i’d still think the speeches were below par. i justify my claims based on personal experience (like the fact that a picture of alex and myself was chosen out of thousands taken on Rutgers Day to capture “Rutgers Day at Rutgers” for one) and especially based on the speech given by old Dick himself at the university-wide commencement– he wanted it to be very clear to everyone that Rutgers statistically has more minority students than white students and that Rutgers was proud for achieving this. SAYING this shows racism. It’s this kind of mentality that suggest the need put up two political minorities as the leaders/faces of the Class of 2009, over someone who was potentially more qualified. It’s possible that Melody and Dymir are the most stellar examples of Rutgers Class of 2009, but something in me says that it probably isn’t true. I think Rutgers wanted to prove something for itself and that it really was adopting a big-corporate PR mentality. i could see why you think this is cynical, but i was just trying to be honest with the situation. and the negativity towards Rutgers wasn’t there from the start, it just gets built up from experience and familiarity. i hope this clears up any misconceptions that you have; i’m going to cut myself off at comment 5 of reiterating the same thing over again.

  17. I don’t really like knocking the psych major either…I think in some ways she was a sentimental choice because of her grandfather being an alumnus. Her speech was really sweet in that respect. Honestly, most liberal arts majors are fairly “easy.” (he majors, not just the girls.) Although it is a fair point that certain LA majors allow the individual to choose their level of difficulty, the selection of a difficult course for a student who loves the subject may not be “difficult” at all. I’d say this applies to the math majors as well. We are motivated by what interests and comes naturally, and many of us thrive on complexity. Personally, if you placed me in the so-called “easy” major Psychology, I might not have done well at all. I dislike anything mathematical and quantitative research makes me snore (somehow I pulled a way better quantitative score on the GREs than SAT, so I guess that English and Communication combination somehow taught me math.)

    Pulling a 4.0 in any degree requires discipline, and does anyone really want to hear a speech written by a math/comp sci/bio major? Sure, It might turn out good, but they wanted to select someone they trusted and who had a story to tell, so clearly she did have these trust-building/networking skills and proved herself to the staff. I don’t mind the rest of your article’s snark, but she’s just a student. She was by far the least offensive speaker, and I’m sure her crying touched a lot of audience members. It’s impossible to measure

    Baglivo irritated everyone by talking about her self. Ok, it’s great that you had a Janis Joplin poster (I mean I did too…you know how it is in Clothier) and were a “hippie” and hug your kids 8 times a day or whatever, but we don’t want to hear you brag about what you’ve done and use a paid gig to plug your own company. We get it, you won at life. Can I please have a job now?
    I didn’t completely mind hearing about her “emotional victory,” it would have been a reasonable narrative, had she not completely insulted administrative workers by dismissing their works/lives and failed to really impress any connection between her words and the graduate’s lives or situation. She basically told us our undergraduate educations are worthless and hence completing sabotaging what should have been an inspirational speech for gradutaes in a troubled economy.
    Also (as I’m now hypocritical and indirectly bragging about myself ala Baglivo) Re: the English major…how the hell did our honors system work? To my friends in the English Honors program… Do you have to write a thesis to be listed in the English honors section…as in, were all the people listed with honors in the pamphlet in your thesis seminar? Or did I just get screwed for no reason? I just calculated for my resumes/grad apps) and my English GPA was a 3.85 with 51 credits. I guess you had to write a thesis…which makes me mad because I had applied and was accepted. They then rejected my advisers in June because Professor Bell (who taught the English half of an extremely literature-intensive History course) wasn’t in the department and the English department co-adviser I selected to avoid this issue was actually still finishing her dissertation. Ok I’m pulling a Baglivo, but my point is it would be have been nice to see my name under highest honors (unless they just don’t give it since no one received highest in the pamphlet…is it related to your thesis grade..high honors= A/honors=B+? or to your GPA like school honors–summa, magna etc) Just makes me sad..my AP English teacher told me I’d fail out of college, so I sort of enjoy proving her and others who thought I was slow wrong. Bu she’s probably dead now anyway. Eighty four year old nuns make really…motivating…teachers.
    Getting back on topic, I didn’t even do that well in my so-called “easy” major, communication, where my GPA was a full point lower. It was too simple and filled with girls with too much hairspray to really engage me.

    As for diversity, well, I mean, I guess that’s one of the few things we have going for us “on paper” (especially in school rankings) that we can show off. I mean, to someone from out-of-state, seeing exotic non-white people might be a real draw! It’s like watching BET, Telemundo or Bollywood in person! Just kidding. I guess we do promote diversity through our outreach programs to EOF and summer programs, but I agree it’s a litle obnoxious. But that’s how we roll in Jersey…like a bunch of narcissistic, overachieving headcases.

    And it that respect, the ceremony seemed to accurately represent undergraduate experience and our “Jersey roots.” And I say that with utmost love. Depending on the wheel of fortune, I might be looking forward to 2-6 post-graduate at Rutgers, the Costco/Walmart of education. You get what you pay for, but it’s better than paying a lot more to get even less at some private school. As much as this school has screwed me over, the worst part of graduation was that it marked the close of the best four years of my life…. So far.

  18. Opps…10th of a point…a 2.85 in communication would be a sad day indeed! And my T key is sort of broken. It’s also an interesting point about the political. I mainly focused on the leadership/management courses in the Communication department, so the majority of my professors were from corporate backgrounds. They had very different perspectives on issues from other professors and most students. Since I was an intern for an oil/energy company, they tend to favor me a little, since I was less likely to make sweeping generalizations against corporate America. My Janis Joplin poster sits in a box now, gathering dust.
    My professors said they would be reprimanded for insulting Obama, but tha their colleagues regularly mocked Bush in both their and students’ company. This is understandable, but it is discouraging that certain types of “diversity” are less welcomed than others.

  19. NJ is just about 76% white. i don’t find him saying he’s proud of our diversity as racist just like me saying i’m proud of being asian isn’t racist. i think KNO said it perfectly, and her and mike’s concern for the poor treatment of differing political affiliations, etc is a much more pressing concern than pride in racial diversity.

    i don’t think my last comment was so difficult to understand, but you don’t seem to be able to connect any of my ideas. Never did i assume Mary Baglivo was a racist choice. as far as she goes, i’ve been in agreement with alex, and since you’re never far behind him, you as well. it’s always been about the student speakers.

    maybe i should spell this out more simplistically. what we know about the students speakers is their skin color, sex, gpa, extracurriculars and the quality of speeches they produced. you disregarded both gpa (due to her major) and extracurriculars and correlated their race and sex with what you deemed a below average speech and then concluded that they must have been picked simply for their race and gender. this opinion was strengthened by your preexisting conceptions of what Rutgers is about.

    my argument was, and still is, that your “silly… standard of measurement couldn’t possibly incorporate” all the factors that led up to their being picked to deliver the speeches. you don’t know who the other candidates were, whether or not the other candidates even wanted to deliver a speech, the students’ relationships with their professors/deans, etc. what you did know were only the arbitrary factors about both speakers and you used your limited knowledge to make an assumption i found racist and sexist, ie: he only got to make a speech due to his race and she only got there due to her sex.

    who cares if you still would’ve thought the speeches were below par if they were delivered by two white males? the issue is would you still think they were only picked for their race and sex?

    and please, this: “I do wish that the “dreams for the future” that were posited had been intelligent, and capable of speaking to a broad group of people, not just the blacks and the tent staters.” comes off wayyy more racist than i’m proud of our diversity, no offense alex “i’m not a racist” giannattasio, haha lol.

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