Seamus Heaney may be out as Commencement speaker after complaints. [NOTE: This article appeared in the annual joke issue.] Responding to widespread student dissatisfaction over this year's Commencement speaker -- Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney -- University officials said they are considering reopening the search to find a new candidate. University President Judith Rodin said the issue was under discussion, but no decision had been made yet. "No matter what happens, Penn will have an inspiring speaker at this year's Commencement exercises," Rodin said. But whether that speaker will be Heaney, an Irish poet and acclaimed literary figure, seems unclear. Heaney was unavailable for comment yesterday. The announcement two weeks ago that Heaney would speak at the University's 244th Commencement met with mixed responses across campus. While members of the English Department expressed excitement about the choice, many students and professors outside Bennett Hall did not even know who Heaney was. Students complained, saying that they expected a prominent government or entertainment figure at their graduation. "Admittedly, he is a famous author, but most seniors haven't really heard of him," College senior and Undergraduate Assembly Chairman Michael Silver said. Sources close to the speaker search process said that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and talk show host Oprah Winfrey were among the other names considered this year. And with a month and a half left before the ceremony, Penn may be trying once again to attract one of these better-known candidates. "It would be difficult to get a different speaker so soon before graduation," University Secretary Rose McManus said. Interim English Department Chairman John Richetti said he was stunned that Heaney may not speak. "I'm truly flabbergasted," Richetti stuttered. "The brilliant John Richetti knows Heaney's work. Students today should be forced to read 10 Heaney poems before they can graduate. They should also all be required to take my class." Still, many seniors said that they might not even come to graduation if Heaney is the speaker. "He's just some random Irish guy," College senior and Class President Lisa Marshall said. "What will he talk about? Leprechauns, Guinness and potatoes?" To protest the choice of Heaney as speaker, Penn Students Against Irish People said they will be throwing Lucky Charms at Rodin's window tommorrow.Comments powered by Disqus
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