The Torch

Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

Torch Staff

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Last week, St. John’s Law School announced that this year’s commencement speaker will be former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Not only is this exciting, as Bharara has been an influential figure in the landscape of the U.S. government, but it is also a step in a promising direction, following the lead of other universities with traditions of hosting notable figures as commencement speakers.

Preet Bharara made a name for himself as a federal prosecutor by dismantling money laundering schemes, securities frauds and organized crimes. He has been described by the New York Times as “one of the nation’s most aggressive and outspoken prosecutors of public corruption and Wall Street crime.” Bharara has also been named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Last year, Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York became especially prominent in national news coverage after being fired by President Donald Trump. To hear him speak will not only be an honor for guests at the Law School commencement, but it’s also sure to be a learning experience.

Bharara’s appointment as commencement speaker is a refreshing change from the norm at St. John’s, and we hope it’s a change whose effects will be felt at the undergraduate level, too. The University has not yet announced its commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony. The Torch has requested a list of 2018 commencement speakers from St. John’s, but has not yet received it.

Many colleges host commencement speakers of national prominence. Over the last few years, St. John’s has mostly chosen members of the religious community who perhaps aren’t as well known to graduating students. While their speeches always prove to be powerful, we would love to see St. John’s break from this practice and choose a newsmaker such as Bharara to speak at our undergraduate commencement ceremonies.

In 2016, for example, St. John’s hosted Bishop of Brooklyn Nicholas DiMarzio as the commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony on the Queens campus. That same year, UC Berkeley hosted Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, as its commencement speaker, while UPenn hosted Lin Manuel Miranda. Speakers like these could provide a different perspective for the graduating class to consider as they embark on the rest of their lives.

While the messages at recent commencements have been uplifting, it would be a welcome change to see St. John’s deviate from its recent practice and try to get prominent speakers of varying backgrounds to address the University.

Graduating seniors often are told on graduation they should shoot for the stars. We feel the university should do so too.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

We love comments and feedback, but we ask that you please be respectful in your responses.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    Flames of the Torch: On journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    Letter to the Editor: From SJU’s New Athletic Director

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    UFC: Ultimate Fighting Clowns

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    The U.S. Has Taken a Risk with Kavanaugh

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    Mental Health Needs to be Taught in More Than Two States

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    Mocking Women is Trump’s Hobby

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    Kavanaugh: Innocent Till Proven Guilty

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    Is Columbus the Best Man for a Holiday?

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    How to Stay Pepped for Midterms and Ace Exams

  • Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds

    Opinion

    Bette Midler’s Insensitive Remark

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University
Flames of the Torch: on selecting commencement speakers of more diverse backgrounds