Princeton students pen scathing op-ed on pre-graduation speaker Marshawn Lynch

Princeton students pen scathing op-ed on pre-graduation speaker Marshawn Lynch

At least a few Ivy League students are not fans of “Beast Mode.”

A handful of Princeton seniors voiced discontent with the university’s “paradoxical” and “questionable” decision to have Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch speak at “Class Day,” a pre-graduation event scheduled for June 1.

The letter was published to the Daily Princetonian and titled, “Reforming the Class Day speaker selection process: Open letter to the Class Day Co-Chairs.”

“We wish to express our thoughts on the choice of the Class Day speaker for 2020 and propose improvements that could be made to the speaker selection process,” the letter begins. “Many of us were disappointed when we saw that this year’s speaker was to be Marshawn Lynch.”

The argument laid out is two-fold. Primarily, the students feel disenfranchised by the selection committee, whose perspectives they felt were too homogeneous, and by methodological flaws within the “opaque selection process.”

“To begin with, we feel that the set of criteria for nominees should be clearly defined and transparent to the graduating class,” the letter says. “In the selection of Marshawn Lynch, however, it is not evident what the set of criteria for nomination are.”

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.
Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch.Getty Images

Secondarily, the students feel that Lynch has not “unapologetically embodied and advocated for [their] identities and values,” as stated on the university’s Instagram account. The letter does mention Lynch’s “incredibly impressive career as an NFL football player and as a social activist,” but goes on to highlight his often obstinate attitude toward the media, including the infamous, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” comment in 2015.

Lynch, 33, is a five-time Pro Bowler and has accrued 10,413 rushing yards and 85 touchdowns over 13 seasons. He won a Super Bowl as a member of the Seahawks in 2014, and has been recognized for his philanthropic work within communities.

Last year’s “Class Day” speaker was actress and Princeton graduate, Ellie Kemper.

The students conclude by conceding that “no single speaker can strike a connection with every senior,” but that by reforming the process to be more transparent, the committee will be able to better “anticipate concerns” in the future.

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