Princeton Students protest selection of Marshawn Lynch as ‘Class Day’ speaker

Princeton University’s senior class students are not terribly pleased with the decision to make NFL superstar Marshawn Lynch their “Class Day” speaker, with seemingly no input from the class he’s supposed to be speaking to.

The Instagram post from Princeton claims that Lynch “unapologetically embodied and advocated for our own identities and values,” but in an op-ed entitled “Reforming the Class Day speaker selection process: Open letter to the Class Day Co-Chairs,” published in The Daily Princetonian, seniors questioned whether that was really the case.

The students claim that they are not so much disappointed by the decision to make Lynch the speaker so much as they felt completely left out of the decision-making process.

“It goes without saying that Lynch has had an incredibly impressive career as an NFL football player and as a social activist,” the letter reads. “He has given back to his home community of Oakland through many philanthropic activities and has organized football clinics around the world. However, saying that Lynch has “unapologetically embodied and advocated for our own identities and values” (as stated in the University’s official Instagram post) without actually consulting us, the Princeton community, is paradoxical and thus questionable.”

Making it clear that they had no personal problems with the footballer, they added: “We do not mean to criticize this choice of speaker in particular, but rather want to call attention to the opaque selection process for Class Day speakers.”

The op-ed detailed how students who were unfamiliar with Lynch did a cursory internet search, but some of the results may not have been what they wanted in a “Class Day” speaker.

“Among articles that praised his NFL career and philanthropic contributions, we came across articles discussing Lynch’s reticence with the media and his terse responses at press conferences,” the contributors noted. “In 2013 and 2014, for example, Lynch was fined $50,000 and $100,000 for refusing to speak to the media. During the 2015 Superbowl Media Day, Lynch famously responded to multiple questions with variants of ‘I’m just here so I won’t get fined.’ With no other frame of reference, such reports caused confusion over the set of criteria that led to his nomination.”

But for conservatives, there are a fair few other reasons to oppose Lynch as “Class Day” speaker.

In August 2019, the mother of a young child confronted Lynch about his use of profane language in the presence of the children at his “Fam 1st Family” football camp. After Lynch dropped the f-bomb in front of the kids, some as young as nine, the mother removed her child from the field. When he went to confront the mother in the stands, he asked: “Is there a man here with you? … I want to speak to a man.”

In November 2017, Lynch outraged conservative football fans after he sat down through the “Star-Spangled Banner,” but opted to stand in respect for the Mexican national anthem. At the time he was playing for the Oakland Raiders, who were facing the New England Patriots at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium. This prompted a rebuke from President Donald Trump on Twitter.

In October 2017, Lynch was photographed wearing a highly-controversial “Everybody vs Trump” which caused an outcry on social media.

It appears that no matter what side of the matter you sit on, there are several very good reasons to question why Marshawn Lynch was chosen for this particular honor.


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