Written by Kimberly Aguilar, student submission
At a school where tuition is on average about $37,000 per year, Mount Saint Mary’s University has failed at obtaining memorable speakers for commencement ceremonies. The tuition at Spelman College, a historically black college for women in Atlanta, is $13,000 less and they have been able to acquire dominant women to address graduating students such as Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Soledad O’Brien. Students have realized that they want more memorable spokeswomen to speak at their graduation.
In 2014, MSMU was named No. 1 in MONEY magazine as the U.S. college
“that adds the most value,” but do they really live up to this? Students are encouraged to make their dreams a reality by overcoming the male to female ratio in their future given field of work, therefore, we should have women like Cheryl Boone Isaacs, President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Ellen DeGeneres, host and producer of the Ellen DeGeneres show, and many other women as the commencement speakers. These women are only two of many that have overcome the female status quo and continue fighting for equality in race and gender.
Ariadna Angulo, a first generation student at The Mount, suggests the school “invest money in scouting for speakers because women here need to be told that they can by women who have.” This may be so, but the cost to have commencement speakers is quite gruesome.
According to Time magazine, about 30% of colleges pay for commencement speakers that range from about $30,000 to $155,000. Factually speaking, this means that the majority of universities acquire people that speak for free at graduation. Mount Saint Mary’s is one of those schools, but in a school where money is going towards installments of new tables on the lawn, elevator reconstruction, and online renovations, why not invest in something that is also very much worthy of the cost?
Schools defend the cost of commencement speakers because they believe it puts their school on the map, makes the institution more attractive, and increases donations and involvement from alumni. In doing so, the school would get media attention and possibly more offers from prestigious people. This school has such a high advantage in which most of the student body is composed of women, minorities, and first-generation students. Due to this, students attending The Mount are almost certain guest female speakers would feel honored to uplift, congratulate, and address future graduating classes.