Have you heard that Columbia University students launched the “POTUS Project?” They want President Barack Obama to be their commencement speaker.
This is a cool-sounding plan. Yet perhaps you’ve also seen the Facebook group aimed at getting professional funny lady Tina Fey to our graduation.
To this initiative I say: hell yes. Let’s make Tina Fey the commencement speaker for 2011.
“She is a woman who has really achieved a lot in a field [in which] men generally do much better,” said College senior Jenna Stahl, a founder of the “Petition: Make Tina Fey Penn Class of 2011 Commencement Speaker” Facebook group. “I think that’s really admirable. I think she’d do a great speech. To boot, she’s really funny. I think people would be a lot more excited about commencement.”
The fact that Fey is a woman is hardly insignificant. She’d be our 11th female commencement speaker since 1938. How many men have there been? Ninety-nine.
Maybe you have yet to attend an above-high-school graduation. The truth is, no matter how circumstantial the circumstance and pompy the pomp, all graduations have one thing in common: they’re boring.
Even your parents, who find your every success cause for disproportionate celebration, probably think graduations are boring and just don’t want to tell you. Ceremonies bring out feelings of accomplishment and tradition. But after a while, all you feel is restless. Our choice of a commencement speaker should not be driven by a desire to out-prestige every other school (although should Columbia actually snag the POTUS, I’ll tip my mortorboard to them). Trust me, fellow Quakers, what you want most of all is a speaker who can make you laugh.
Plus, Fey’s appeal goes beyond her sense of humor. Obama might be a Columbia alumnus, but Fey is from Upper Darby. That’s 18 years of Philadelphia devotion before college alone. And, as Stahl said, “It’s a combination of her being funny and the fact that she can say a lot about hard work, creativity and persistence.”
What say you, Penn seniors?
“I’d like that,” College senior Mike Hiatt said. Then — likely echoing the thoughts of many 2011’ers — he added that Fey would be better than last year’s speaker, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
This initiative, Stahl said, is not intended to offend Huntsman, even though Friday Night Lights author and former Daily Pennsylvanian editor Buzz Bissinger told a crowd at Kelly Writers House this Monday that the Wharton School building in his father’s name looks like a penis. There are also students who disagree with the entertainer-as-speaker argument.
“The Penn commencement speaker is one of the great opportunities in my lifetime to get to hear someone that impacts our world,” College senior Landon Marder said . “I care most about the way that the speaker can be insightful … and that will most likely be found in the business or political community.”
However, while we’re quick to associate success with all things governmental and financial, Fey’s artistic successes are just as incredible: seven Emmys, four Screen Actors Guild Awards, four Writers Guild of America awards and three Golden Globes, not to mention her now-famous Sarah Palin impersonation and its incalculable-yet-undeniable influence on the Presidential election of 2008.
Comedy is a realm in which you can be more insightful than almost anyplace else. You’re in the business of social commentary all the time and you operate sans boundaries.
And as for Fey’s impact on our world, do you quote Mean Girls on a regular basis? Shut up! This means Fey has been such an integral part of our outside-the-classroom education that she has changed the way we speak to each other. Blamo. She’s basically an English professor here already.
I am hopeful that we can get Fey here. In fact, I am audaciously hopeful. Can we do this, Class of 2011? Yes we can.
Jessica Goldstein is a College senior from Berkeley Heights, N.J. Her e-mail address is goldstein@theDP.com. Say Anything appears on alternate Wednesdays.Comments powered by Disqus
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