The semester is coming to a close in a few weeks. I’m a senior and quite terrified of the whole thing. Not the graduating bit; the whole “uhhhh, what’s next” bit. The precursor to jumping into the real world, and by real world I mean a cubicle and re-runs of Everybody Loves Raymond, is our graduation ceremony, ushering many of us into that aforementioned phase of confusion and uncertainty.
Recently I received a generic email, detailing certain things about this ceremony, which I am to ceremoniously attend. One of the topics was typed in bold: GRADUATION SPEAKER INFORMATION. Naturally I perked up-I consider myself a good public speaker, and am decently infamous on campus. So I thought, ‘why not?’ I should give it a shot. Only to be greeted with the first requirement: GPA of 3.5. I’ll be honest, I don’t have a 3.5. I fall somewhere between 3.5 and 3.0.
I then got to thinking about how many others I knew who would make insightful and riotously funny speeches, but would not be able to because of that one requirement. Graduation speakers are notorious for being longwinded and boring, and quite frankly, not many people listen. So, why the requirement? Why not gauge the speaker by other qualities other than a GPA?
This isn’t to say that there are no other requirements. Surely, there are interviews that the prospective speaker must go through, but I think it’s ridiculous to make GPA one of them. Many of history’s geniuses were not the best in class. Does that detract from the valuable messages, insight and contributions that these people could give in a speech had this opportunity been presented to them?
Others will say that the GPA requirement is meant to weed away the riff-raff that may sign up. I understand that, and it’s all well and good; but why not weed them out in other ways, like interviews, written essays, draft speeches, recommendation letters, etc. There is a plethora of ways that the quality of a speaker can be measured other than a grade point average.
I don’t feel this way because I was denied the opportunity, although I would love to speak to the senior class; I don’t feel that I deserve it. Not because of my GPA, but because I was a transfer student, and personally, I believe that someone who has been here the full four-plus years can better represent the UM experience and the students as a whole on that stage.
I do hope whoever they choose with those requirements can rock our socks with their words. I still stand by my thoughts that a GPA requirement blocks viable candidates who would surely leave the audience in awe, because when it comes down to it, the quality of a person does not lay in the miniscule details of a grade point average.
That, years from now, will be meaningless.
Jovanni Bello is a senior majoring in computer information systems. He can and should be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.