Occupy-Style Rant Takes the Stage at Spring Hill College Commencement

As others have done for more than a century, the graduating class of Spring Hill College processed together beneath the ancient trees lining the Avenue of the Oaks this past Saturday.  Spring Hill, owned by the Society of Jesus (a Catholic order of professed religious men better known as “Jesuits”), is a venerable institution of higher learning founded by Bishop Michael Portier in 1830.  Among Jesuit colleges and universities (of which there are 27 in the US), Spring Hill is the third oldest.

The sturdy oaks under which we walked were planted by Roger Stewart, a Scotsman who came to the United States in the 19th century and who went into the cotton business.  He also built the Greek-Revival (c. 1850) style house at the end of the Avenue of the Oaks, before which the commencement stage is erected each year by hard-working college staff.  As a member of the faculty I am always impressed with our commencement exercises … and, of course, I’m always guaranteed a great seat for the festivities!

Though the morning was a bit muggy, the weather was nearly perfect for early May.  Faculty and graduates processed in academic regalia, recreating the great university traditions of medieval Europe, while parents and guests sat excitedly nearby.  The primary commencement speaker was the Hon. Sonja Bivins, a 1985 graduate of the college who now serves as a federal magistrate judge for the Southern District of Alabama.  Her address was a bit long, but its solid values and occasional lightheartedness held the attention of those in attendance.  As she wrapped up her comments with a plea that her audience always respect a summons for jury duty, I found myself thinking that hers might be among the very best graduation speeches I’ve ever heard.

Near the end of the ceremony came the annual speech known as the Senior Class Oration.  This curious tradition has been around for some time at Spring Hill, and the speaker is always chosen from the graduating class.  One can never be exactly sure about what will emerge as part of this presentation, but it usually offers a bit of levity framing a valuable moral lesson or a wise admonition about the future, or about the value of not forgetting lessons learned and friendships earned in the past.  In my humble opinion, this year’s senior oration was, well, in a word, a spectacle.  It was offered by Mr. Brock Philip Boone.

Recognizing that the date was May 5th, the speaker began with a round of awkward witicisms equating the celebration of Cinco de Mayo with the enjoyment of tequila and Corona beer.  Margarita guzzling and beer drinking, of course, are found only in the American version of this Mexican holiday.  Mexicans mark the date soberly as they recall the surprising victory of Mexican forces over their French overlords on May 5, 1862.   He then hurled a stereotypical insinuation at another of the Christian colleges in the Mobile area before steaming boldly into the main body of his commentary.  From this point what had been tasteless became offensive.

In a rant worthy of the Occupy Wall Street movement, he effectively drove a metaphorical dagger through the heart of goodwill that inspired the day.  He could have challenged us to rise above political differences to address the challenges of our time, but he chose to divide us instead.  Loaded with expressions of pop economics and inspired by only one wing of our nation’s rich political spectrum, the allocution railed against the unfairness of our capitalistic economic system in a manner that, in my opinion, would have thrilled the heart of Karl Marx himself.

If the ultimate goal of a college commencement is not just to celebrate a milestone, but to demonstrate that a new group of critical thinkers has been sent into the world, then this display was a miserable failure.  If our goal is to produce strong, independent minds capable of moral judgements while maintaing dialogue with those of other opinions, this speech demonstrated the exact opposite.  It contained very little–if anything–of critical value with regard to actually solving the problems that presumably inspired it.

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities publishes an occasional magazine called Conversations.  A few months ago a professor at one of our Jesuit colleges published a small commentary there in which he challenged his fellow faculty to reflect upon the job we are doing as we teach our students to be people of justice.  I’m sorry that I didn’t keep that article, because his point has now come home to me through this distasteful experience.  He was quite sure that we college faculty are able to produce graduates who know how to protest and complain.  But will they use critical skills, reflective judgment, and wisdom to construct a world of justice?

That is a question worth asking.

To the great credit of Spring Hill, I have it on good authority that the speech as it was given was not the speech that was approved.  Nonetheless, if it is any indication of the depth of critical awareness being applied by college graduates to issues of economics, poverty, and justice, then it seems clear to me that we college professors have much more work to do.

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70 thoughts on “Occupy-Style Rant Takes the Stage at Spring Hill College Commencement

  1. The short time I was privleged to attend classes associated with Spring Hill, I was constantly reminded of the need for dialog and how understanding another’s differences can bring willing compromise in most cases and well, just plain empathetic tolerance in others. From what I can deduce, Mr. Boone never took any of the classes I was honored to take. … (Oh, how I wish I could have taken more classes.)

  2. All I have to say is he was not the person that I voted for. As a graduating senior, there are not words to describe just how disappointing his speech was to me.

  3. Dr. Switzer,

    All I know of this speech is what I have read on Facebook; however, I have to disagree, at least in part, with your comments. In my limited experience with faculty at Spring Hill I have learned more critical skills than in the 43 years that had passed before entering school 4 years ago. The bulk of the responsibility for learning lies with the student. It is not enough to show up for class every day, listen to lectures and do the work. It is not enough to be exposed to new ideas and new ways of thinking; there has to be absorption. There has to be an openness to new ideas, even if one does not agree with them. Seeing the value in “the other” is a theme throughout my experience at Spring Hill, and it is something that I will take with me and spread when I leave. I’m quite sure that I am not alone in this. A student must go beyond the surface of the lesson and really learn, not just earn grades. Good grades are great. I like good grades. But that is not always the same as learning. Don’t take responsibility for one who would not learn.

  4. I, also, have only heard about this speech through limited media outlets/friends who have told me what they heard or read (no firsthand accounts). I found interesting the number and type of divisive attacks for or against his comments. I wonder, though, if your personal bias against the kid had anything to do with your vitriolic article here. Was he wrong for saying what he said, or just for how he said it? Because if your answer’s “both,” you’ve lost my support.

    • Bestwriter, thanks for your comments. My main concern is the inappropriate context (see my other reply below), though I believe there were factual errors in the allocution as well. As for vitriol, I reject the notion that my analysis is vitriolic. It’s passionate. It’s direct. But it is not vitriolic. By your use of the term, every professor on the planet who demands better from a student is vitriolic. Does that make much sense to you?

    • I was at the graduation. It started with an ethnic jokes about Mexicans and went downhill from there. No one was inspired to do more for the downtrodden. People left angry and bitter. It was an immature and selfish act. Mr. Boone ruined the day for numerous people. He had little regard for others or their feelings. People went to the graduation to see their family/ friends graduation, NOT to be verbally attacked by a young know-it-all. Personally, I got up and walked away (with others) as soon as I heard his unfunny joke about brown people.

      • Kara, very well-said. The contrast between young Boone’s outburst and Judge Bivins’ address was quite stark. Boone’s tone and content were all wrong, and his timing was terrible. It was, as you say, a selfish and divisive act, and he betrayed the trust of his classmates and Professors. I would suggest, however, that we must not let Boone’s ill-considered rant ruin what was otherwise a beautiful, moving, and meaningful day. As the Archbishop said, “There is a difference between having some facts and having wisdom.” Thank God, we heard a lot of wisdom and grace during the rest of the ceremony.

        Stephen Simpson
        Spring Hill Class of 1984

  5. As it wasn’t my graduation, I wasn’t nearly as traumatized by his rant as others I know were–all I have to say is, if it’s like that at my commencment ceremony, I’m bringing tomatoes.

  6. I wish there was a video record of this somewhere so we (the readers who weren’t there) could actually read what he said, and not have to wade through the annoying comments left by those who were offended by/praised him.

    Give me C-Span, not Fox News or MSNBC. I want pure, unfiltered access.

    • I don’t think anyone recorded his speech. However, you can watch the student speaker from 2011, Mr Brown (I think). It was wonderful–inspiring, respectful, and thoughtful. You left wanting to shake his hand. Unlike last year, people left during the speech and fled to their cars afterwards.

      • Kara, the 2011 address by Travis Brown was the epitome of everything one could hope for from a Class Orator. As you say, Mr. Boone’s speech was a tonal train wreck that disappointed and discouraged even those who agree with him ideologically.

  7. “If our goal is to produce strong, independent minds capable of moral judgements while maintaing dialogue with those of other opinions, this speech demonstrated the exact opposite.” Dr. Switzer, it doesn’t seem to me that you made any points to actually back this up. Just because the judgements that Brock had articulated in his speech don’t agree with your political sentiments does not mean that his mind is incapable of making them. If anything having the gull to make a speech like that proves the opposite, clearly he isn’t weak. It seems to me that after growing up in surrounded by conservatives, but maturing into a man who makes his own decisions is actually the exact type of critical thinking that we’re supposed to be doing isn’t it?

    While I don’t think that a college commencement is the best forum for Brock to voice these sentiments, and I don’t agree with everything that he said, this blog post is even worse than the speech when it comes to “thinking critically.” You say that he utilized pop economic expressions in the same sentence that you evoke the name of the ever misunderstood Karl Marx in an effort to cut down his statements… Pretty hypocritical (and cliche) if you ask me.

    Just because the college is producing some graduates who disagree with your politics definitely does not mean it isn’t producing critical thinking skills. I am thoroughly disappointed in finding this blog, I kind of wish I hadn’t.

    • Cora,

      I fully agree with you (and miss you terribly)! My heart broke when I heard that the audience at graduation–at a Jesuit school I thanked in MY commencement speech for teaching me social justice–booed when the speaker posited we should spend less on defense and more on education and feeding the poor.

      • Mary Frances, I respectfully–but strongly–disagree with your interpretation of the booing that took place. That reaction was nothing more than a visceral response on the part of those who felt that they were being taken advantage of. As it turns out, they were. I am told that the orator in question had hidden his true agenda from the administration. I do not think for a moment that we have to avoid difficult issues or ignore problems like poverty. The audience didn’t boo the idea of justice–they booed because what was being foisted upon them was unjust. The difficult issues mentioned by the orator could all have been addressed in his allocution IF he had handled them maturely, irenically, and honestly.

      • Professor Switzer, thank you for your reply. You were there and I was not. My interpretation was based on what the newspaper said. Forgive me if I was mistaken. It does sound like a generally regrettable set of circumstances. If Mr. Boone was opining that a certain breed of under-regulated capitalism fosters severe income inequality and the destruction of the middle class, and that that is unacceptable, I agree with him–however I do agree with you that a commencement address with a captive audience was an inappropriate forum to voice a political diatribe that apparently took place. Now that we who were not there are receiving information about racism that apparently took place, I’m becoming less and less sympathetic to Mr. Boone.

  8. I thank everyone for their comments, and wish to point out that the intention of the article was to enter the debate about the value of public allocutions such as the one at hand. I am convinced that the presenter is a fine young person of great intellectual ability who used that ability to split his audience ideologically rather than bring us together in a commitment to solve the problems he mentioned.

    What makes a political blog different from a commencement speech is context.

    The entire commencement ceremony was shown over the internet, so I assume it’s available in recorded form somewhere.

    Cora, I’m sorry you’re disappointed, but my reference to Karl Marx wasn’t intended as an insult. Have you read his work? I find its idealistic vision to be inspiring in many ways, but unrealistic and unworkable in others.

    In the marketplace of political ideas we simply must be free to debate these matters. That is the purpose of a political blog. I don’t claim to be objective in this forum; the name of the blog should make that very clear. I believe Mr. Boone’s comments were indicative of his politics–his reference to Alabama as a “red state” certainly strongly suggests this–and that is why his statements have been commented upon here. Surely he knew in advance that his comments would be controversial.

    The event on Saturday was not a political rally. When one has a captive audience that is presumably mixed in its political makeup, it is unfair to subject them to one-sided political speeches because there is no possibility for retort or commentary. This is why I don’t preach my own politics in the classroom, but prefer to do so in a public online forum where those who disagree can do so and be fairly heard, as many of you are doing now.

  9. I really just want a copy of the speech so I can form an actual opinion instead of going off everyone’s personal anecdote of what offended/didn’t offend them.

  10. I was not there in person, but am disappointed to hear this news. From what I have read, Mr. Boone robbed students of a great memory. Kaiesha Ford addressed the class of 2010 in a way that we all remember. I know several of us personally emailed her for a copy of the speech because we didn’t want to forget it. She captured the essence of our class and brought us together to happily remember our times at SHC, while giving us confidence to enter the “adult world”. I feel that Mr. Boone took his opportunity to leave a legacy (a privilege, that was granted to him by his classmates) and squashed it to simply “get a rise” out of people. I’m sad that a fellow graduate would behave in such a manner. If anything, it shows he has little to no respect for his classmates and Spring Hill’s reputation.

  11. Mary Frances, I wish to humbly point out that what I have attempted to do is to suggest that the oration in question could have raised the level of public discourse, even while addressing difficult issues, rather than lower the level of discourse. Whether you agree or disagree with others raising their concerns, I think it’s clear that the oration accomplished the latter of these two possibilities.

  12. I think “demanding better of a student” to be a highly loaded phrase here.

    • Bestwriter, yes, I agree. “Demanding better, calling for more, hoping for justice, building a better world, living the gospel, being a disciple of Christ” — all of these are highly-loaded phrases. They mean something. And they mean something worth more than a rant.

  13. I definitely agree with you, Dr. Switzer. As a Mexican-American, I am offended. First off by how a Mexican Victory over the French is remembered with alcohol and sloppiness (I can only imagined how people would react if the 4th of July was recognized the same way) and secondly how a student used a very special moment for families and students as a political stage. If he thought his speech was going to be memorable, well, it was, but for all the wrong reasons.

    • “As a Mexican-American, I am offended. First off by how a Mexican Victory over the French is remembered with alcohol and sloppiness (I can only imagined how people would react if the 4th of July was recognized the same way)”

      Adriana, is it possible that his “racist” comment was meant to bring attention to this very issue? Perhaps he was pointing out that the manner in which Americans typically “celebrate” Cinco de Mayo is just as offensive as racist comments (and/or racism, in principle). While I was not present at graduation and, obviously, cannot speak to the true intent of Mr. Boone, I see no reason to reject this as a possibility.

      Kyle

      • Also, it is my experience that the manner in which Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo is fairly similar to the manner in which Americans celebrate the Fourth of July, in terms of outward behaviors such as drinking and partying. However, we certainly do not assign the same intrinsic meaning to the dates.

      • I think his comment that graduates should be wearing sombreros with their gowns makes a higher purpose unlikely.

      • Kyle, you asked an interesting question that deserves an answer:

        “…is it possible that his “racist” comment was meant to bring attention to this very issue?”

        The short answer is, “no”. Had you been present, as I was, I believe you would have quickly discerned that Mr. Boone’s intent was to belittle and demean; not only Mexicans, but any other person or group that happened to be in the path of his plan to hijack the Spring Hill graduation ceremony. He spent a long time laboring the point that it was Cinco de Mayo and lamented the lack of Tequila and Corona at the ceremony. He mocked anyone who would dare suggest that overconsumption of alcohol by students might possibly be irresponsible. So, no, it wasn’t even close to being a cogent commentary on societal attitudes about race. It was just a nervous attempt at lame humor that backfired and set the stage for the disaster to come.

        Stephen Simpson
        Spring Hill Class of 1984

  14. Thank you for your comment, Adriana. I am especially grateful because you and I often see political issues very differently. On this, however, we agree. I hope and pray that you are well and that you had a happy and safe “Cinco”!

  15. The issue at hand here, in my opinion, is not so much that this young man voiced his opinion (that is our right). The issue is that he chose this particular venue. My fiance graduated with her nursing degree this year, and her family was in attendance. She has worked extremely hard day in and day out for four years and her family has supported her through the difficulties and successes of her college education. That day should have been a celebration of achievement and overcoming adversity and full of excitement about the future. It would appear that this kid (I will not call him MR. Boone as I find that a gross overstatement of my respect for him) acted very selfishly and instead of my fiance and her family talking today about the wonderful ceremony and speech, they talk about his misplaced rant. As a serviceman and soon to be graduate from a military academy I am aghast that someone could act with such a lack of respect for others much less their classmates and families. I hope he at least feels some remorse for obviously offending so many people…but sadly i doubt he does.

  16. My Daughter received her Ms in Education on that beautiful Saturday and nothing, including young Brock Philip Boone’s ill conceived, poorly timed remarks, could dampen the day. An earlier post references Kaiesha Ford’s speech and the opportunity she grasped and delivered as a representative of the Class of 2010; she gave her speech with class and grace and will be remembered by many for years to come. My Daughter received her BS in 2010 and I had the opportunity to witness it first hand from a Beautiful young Lady who was at one time my Daughter’s roommate. .

    Several points could be made here about what may or not be the young boy’s responsibility to his classmates. After getting through the appropriateness of his insensitive racial comments, the comments made towards the University of Mobile and other barbs directed towards people who watch news channels he doesn’t like or vote for candidiates with values he obviously does not hold as his own he got to the “meat” of his address. Some of these points have been addressed above and will probably continue after this post.

    What strikes me here and is my “Takeaway” after thinking it through is the hypocrisy of Young Boone. Judge Sonja Bivins held my attention through her keynote because the subject matter and message was positive, uniting and a success story of what hard work, positive attitude and taking advantage of opprtunities and staying the course can do. She talked about being a high school student and being part of the Upward Bound program for economically disadvantaged youth to pursue an education at a world class institution like Spring Hill. She spoke of what she learned through her journeys in life and imparted her experiences of what a life filled with hard work and achievement can provide you. It was a message that resonated with the crowd and will long be remembered.

    In contrast, what young B.P. Boone stated, after his comments about Tequila, Corona (Whch I enjoy both), Mexicans and the U of Mobile, was “Hard work doesn’t Matter” because of the inequalities in the system and the deck is stacked against you.

    The economic diversity of Fairhope goes from the disadvantaged to the wealthy and it shows in the trailer parks along Greeno Road to the Waterfront homes along the Mobile Bay. He is probably not one of the children that had to lift himself up by the bootstraps to escape his poverty stricken existence. If my only exposure to young Brock was that speech, and I hope it is, I would think that he has a lot to learn and would ask what poverty has he experienced. I would also ask the question what understanding does he have of the economic system and where did the anger for the people he calls rich come from. He stated that the 1% of wealthholders (Rich) got their money from family money. Most of the people I know that would be considered top 5% were self made people that took advantage of the same opportunities that Judge Bivins did. Young Boone grew up in Fairhope, Alabama. He has had a privileged background and my guess is he graduated Magna Cum Laude through intelligence and probably some level of hard work.

    So where is the hypocrisy? Unless young Brock Philip worked his way through school to pay his own way, 100% of his tuition was paid by his parents or a mix of grants and scholarships awarded him through the benefactors of Spring Hill. I see their names as my kid was awarded the same grants; they are the rich, the middle class and people who would give their last dime to the college, regardless of their economic backgrounds or circumstance.

    Everyone who has attended or has sent a child to Spring Hill knows the costs of attendance. It is worth every penny and the positive changes to their lives and the life long associations made are invaluable and I see many Spring Hill alumni changing the world one person at a time.

    Young B.P. benefitted from the same class system and sacrifice of the people that he rails against and gave no acknowledgement to their hard work, dedication and sacrifice that makes Spring Hill College the beacon of light that it is.

    After six years and a $250k education funded through grants, scholarships, student loans and the hard work of solidly middle-class parents she will now set out to teach America’s youth at less than $40,000.00 per year. She is not bitter, depressed or alienated. She worked hard and is trying to make the world a better place and she will.

  17. I think senor Boone cares passionately about what he was speaking on. I believe that he did over simplify some problems such as that Fox News and Rush use fear. Of course they do, but sensationalism is how ALL major media outlets sell news- not just Republican frequented venues. However, I think he made the speech to make people think. It was a bad place to make the speech and I don’t think it was a particularly good speech. I disagree with what he thinks cause the problems and what are his solutions; but he does care about the problems of poverty and everything else he said. At least he’s passionate about something.

  18. Is it possible that his “racist” comment was meant to bring attention to this very issue? Perhaps he was pointing out that the manner in which Americans typically “celebrate” Cinco de Mayo is just as offensive as racist comments (and/or racism, in principle). While I was not present at graduation and, obviously, cannot speak to the true intent of Mr. Boone, I see no reason to reject this as a possibility.

    Building on this point, I think I may have discovered some of Mr. Boone’s underlying intentions in highlighting this inconsistency.

    I believe, as I alluded in my comments above, that Mr. Boone’s racist comments were meant to bring light to the factual truth of the following statement:

    (A) The manner in which American culture “celebrates” Cinco de Mayo is inappropriate because it is inconsistent with the true importance of the date in Mexican history, but no one seems to notice or care.

    Or in non-specific terms, if Americans took a moment to truly understand the true meaning of the occasion in question, they would realize that the manner in which we mark this date in our culture does not acknowledge the reality of the events that transpired.

    Even more general, if Person X took a moment to truly understand the meaning of the symbol in question from the point of view of Person Y, then Person X would realize that the manner in which he regards the symbol is inconsistent with the meaning of the symbol from the perspective of Person Y.

    I submit that it is possible that Brock was attempting to make the following connection in his speech:

    (B)The manner in which American culture “celebrates” college graduation is inappropriate because it is inconsistent with the true importance of the date as a symbol in the lives of young men and women, but no one seems to notice or care.

    Is it possible that while we typically regard college graduation as a moment to celebrate, we should take a step back and consider that this may not be the case for today’s graduates? College graduation is celebrated as a joyous occasion not only because of the hard work has led up to this moment, but also because we assume that it means the graduates are prepared to enter a world of opportunity, hope, and prosperity.

    Is it possible that Mr. Boone’s comments were meant to make the audience — the graduates, parents, faculty, and media (thanks to good ole’ American sensationalism) — ask themselves whether this is still true? Are we, as Americans, ensuring that the next generation will inherit a future as promising as ours? Is a college diploma enough to ensure that we are living in such a world? Is education — of individual students and populations — enough? Or, do we perhaps need to take a look at the true conditions of the world in which we live and acknowledge that maybe it’s what we thought? Maybe celebration is inappropriate. Maybe education isn’t enough. What about the state of the economy? Or the state of public health? Or the state of American politics? Is it possible that, while our parents, administrators, etc., believe that this is a joyous occasion, the students (those who’s actions are deemed worthy of celebrating), do not actually feel the same way about the day?

    Oddly enough, I believe Dr. Switzer’s blog supports this. From reading his post, I believe that the following is an accurate summary of his perspective:

    If Mr. Boone truly understood the importance of graduating from the perspective of parents and administration, then Brock would have realized that his one-sided, political speech to a captive audience is inconsistent with the meaning of graduation to parents and administrators.

    Is it possible that you are not giving Brock enough credit? Dr. Switzer made the following statement:

    “If our goal is to produce strong, independent minds capable of moral judgements while maintaing dialogue with those of other opinions, this speech demonstrated the exact opposite. It contained very little–if anything–of critical value with regard to actually solving the problems that presumably inspired it.”

    Spring Hill has not failed to accomplish any of these goals. Perhaps Spring Hill is too good at it. When you look at Brock’s speech in the manner in which I have described, your statement is completely inaccurate. It made me think. Is this not of critical value? Further, I believe that we are engaging in dialogue here, on the forum, and that this conversation will spread thanks again to American sensationalism. I think Brock has raised issues that no one else has addressed or wants to address. I think that is why he was booed.

    Kyle Bradford

  19. I feel like this rabbit hole gets deeper every time I log in. One thing, for sure, is that he angered some people and made their graduation into a political event. Whether or not he was okay for doing so is up to you. I once had to attend a (PUBLIC) high school graduation in the Mitchell Center at USA where the speaker railed about how there is only one God and how we must respect Him with everything we do with our lives. I mean, he was really yelling into the mic like a preacher. I thought it was an odd speech to give at a public school event, but I never heard any booing. Again, this being a red state (as the SHC speaker made clear), the whole scenario with the public school speaker didn’t really offend anyone to the point of booing.

    • bestwriter,

      In reading a number of your posts attempting to defend Boone, I’m afraid you may be a victim of some of the same biases that Boone carries, because you are trading in some of the same stereotypes that he did. For example, the “Red State” issue: Boone and you both seem to have some serious pre-conceived notions about what that means. Are Alabamians more prone to boo statements with which some of us disagree, because we are Conservative? Are Alabamians more intolerant because we are Conservative? Are the majority of those booing Boone from Alabama? I’m sure you are aware that a large section of the student body at Spring Hill is from out-of-state. I would imagine that there are actually Conservatives in other states; some, more prone to booing that others. Were people booing because they are Conservatives, or because the graduation ceremony was being hijacked?

      The fact is, Boone took a deliberately patronizing, insulting, and divisive tone. Were I a classical Liberal, or someone with Left-leaning views, I would have been insulted by Boone’s thoughtlessness, weak arguments, incoherent ranting, and selfish demeanor.

      His rant was bigoted, bullying, and deliberately misleading and inflammatory. He betrayed his fellow students and his professors and everyone who attended the ceremony.

      Stephen Simpson
      Spring Hill Class of 1984

  20. i attended the commencement and am the parent of a graduate. Boone is a deceitful coward who stole what should have been a precious and happy future remniscent moment for our graduates. Shame on the selection committee for ignoring student voting results and choosing such and unworthy selfish candidate who chose to ignore his responsibility and respect for his peers to put forth a rambling diatribe of nonsense. I had to laugh because what I was hearing was so sadly, patheticy and poorly stated, that I , at first, had thought the speaker had been drunk. I have never heard a speaker booed before. It was the parents of the graduates who were booing loudest; not really about what he said, but in objection to Boone using this auspicious day as an opportunity to put forward crudely worded political statements and slurs directed at his school, his peers and his community. What a boor. Shame on you Boone.

    • What is very clear (from this blog and the Press Register story) is that rational people of all beliefs are trying to find a rational explanation for Mr. Boone’s behavior. Sadly, there may not be one.

      He did not make people think about the poor/ poverty/ injustice/ cruelty. What he did manage to do (in a matter of minutes) was pit parent against parent, faculty member against faculty member, white against color, Catholic against Protestant, Democrat against Republican, South against North…

      And to top it all off, he turned a day meant for many into a day about himself.

  21. No. Eugene, I don’t make a habit of editing comments. I believe in vigorous, passionate debate. I believe it’s how the truth is discovered by mere mortals. The only edits I have ever done are spelling–and that’s to make the comment look better, not worse! I did, however, remove the last few words of your post in order to be consistent with my policy of not allowing AD HOMINEM attacks on my blog.

    • Dr. Switzer
      Thank you for removing some of my vicious,emotional, personal attacks upon the character of the speaker. Such interjections do indeed have no place in this quorum. You have made me a great fan of your blog and I agree with your editing.

      • Mr. Carter,

        Thank you for recognizing my intention. I honestly believe in open dialogue–but that is best accomplished when we argue ideas rather than attack persons. Let’s take the high road!

  22. Parents–your kids just did something that only about a quarter of Americans and about one in a hundred of people in the world are able to do. Be proud of them and be proud of yourselves for your influence. Their achievement isn’t diminished by the what I imagine was a 15 minute-tops speech. Good Lord, stop whining! By prolonging the pain (wow, this is a First World problem if I’ve ever seen one *eye roll*), it is being made worse.

    • Mary Frances,

      I certainly agree with the first portion of your statement. Overall, it was a beautiful day and ceremony. The address by Judge Bivins, with whom I was privileged to attend many classes back in the day, was beautifully eloquent and inspiring. The atmosphere along the Avenue of the Oaks was so rich with history, tradition, and hope. For all of these things, I am grateful, and our family will seek to hold these things highest in our memory. However, Boone’s speech was a sad stain on the day. What offended so many was the fact that Boone was engaged in a form of bullying and bigotry, and he chose to do so on a very important occasion. He attempted to hijack the day and in so doing, betrayed his classmates, teachers, and all who attended. I hope the young man can somehow learn from all of this and mature. Those of us who are willing to voice our sincerely held opinions on the subject are not whining; we are pushing back against the actions of a young man who abused the trust placed in him. I might also add that what you call a “First World problem” will deteriorate into a Third World reality if young Boone’s ideology triumphs.

      Stephen Simpson
      Spring Hill Class of 1984

  23. ^ Definitely worthy of my (and I mean the highest) applause (Mary Frances’ comment above, I mean).

  24. We are to be silent in the face of ethnic “jokes”? Not me, sorry. Cannot do it. If someone next year stands up in blackface, should we also look the other way?

  25. Although I must admit that most of us horrified by Saturday have expressed our feelings already. Will Boone apologize? I don’t know. Will Spring Hill be able to continue a tradition without suspecting that a student has hidden motives? I hope so. If Mr. Boone wanted to make himself known, he has done so with great vigor.

  26. Obviously Mr. Boone’s speech was one which did not help Spring Hill College’s public image, or make a good impression on the press and many visitors. However, I am proud that no one tried to drag him from the podium or silence him. In a nation that prizes freedom of speech, he was allowed his rant. There are institutions where he would not have been allowed to continue. I am very proud of Spring Hill College for giving him his freedom to rant, even at the expense of the college’s image in the community and in the eyes of some of our visitors. In an age where many people rant instead of pursuing gentlemanly (or gentlewomanly) debate, I suppose that Mr. Boone has been exposed to some poor examples. Our television programs are full of them. Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the way things are done at Spring Hill, where the art of gentlemanly debate is still held in high regard.

    I hope Mr. Boone goes out into the world and works for social and economic justice, instead of beating a hasty retreat back to “mom’s and dad’s house.” Hard work might change his mind about economic injustice and the capitalist system. I think Mr. Boone might try reading Winston Churchill. To quote Mr. Churchill, “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy.” Socialism has a history of failure world-wide. As bad as Mr. Boone might perceive capitalism to be, it is a system that has given him a multitude of benefits, including the chance to make something of himself.

  27. I neither want nor expect an apology from this young man. I spent three years of my adult life as a parent, wife, teacher, and student at SpringHill to graduate with my Master’s this past weekend. I won’t let Boone’s spectacle be the memory of my day. It was petty, rambling, and inappropriate. He may have had wonderful points to make, but they were wasted in his sophmoric attempt to entertain and be remembered. He may be remembered, but it will be with little respect from many of us who graduated that day. What a waste of a brilliant mind; hopefully time and age will allow him to mature in his decisions so that he makes the difference that he so very vehemently ranted about.

  28. As I have said on Facebook for those of you who missed it:
    “Alright people, usually I would not get involved in these things, but enough is enough. I don’t care whether you agree or disagree with Brock’s speech—its content, delivery, etc. That is no longer the issue. It happened; it is done. However, it greatly saddens me to see such a childish and downright disgusting attack on a fellow badger. I am not saying you do not have a right to express your opinion about it; I would never deny a person their right to an opinion. If you were simply expressing your opinion about the speech or how it was delivered, then I would not even be writing this. You have gone beyond giving your opinions, and have turned Facebook (as well as other outlets) into a tool used to ridicule and humiliate Brock. This whole thing should have been over and done with. It happened two days ago and it is time to move on.”

    Notice I have said you have a right to your opinion about the content, timing, and delivery of the speech. Whatever, I do not care about that. However, the personal attack on his character, the name calling, and the other various forms of disrespect aimed at him as a person are uncalled for, especially by those who do not personally know Brock. Many of you will throw the argument of “he was disrespecting us” back in my direction as you have done on so many other occasions to other people. Just because you may feel you have been disrespected, does not mean you should go on and publicly disrespect, humiliate, and attack this young man. That is no way to handle anything. These comments calling him a POS, coward, loser, ass, or anything else of that nature are ridiculous, childish, and a gross display of a lack of class on your part.

    Furthermore, blog postings and articles such as these are in no way helpful to the situation. If anything they perpetuate the anger and create further division, and that greatly saddens me. As a member of SHC’s 2012 graduating class and as a badger in general I am very disappointed in the behavior of a bunch of grown people in reaction to this occurrence, particularly parents and some professors who have helped this situation spiral out of control.

    Dr. Switzer, you say that Brock has created more division and has not shown an ability to think critically. Don’t you think that what you have written here has done the same? This has been reposted all over Facebook and has done nothing more than cause anger, frustration, tension, and more arguments between those who support and do not support Brock. I have never seen my fellow badgers more divided, and that is what truly upsets me. If Brock had an opportunity to bring people together as you claim, then we must not overlook the fact that you as an SHC professor had a chance to do the same. This article did little to accomplish that. As for thinking critically, that goes beyond content of a speech or article; it also goes with thinking critically about the consequences of your actions in my opinion. It seems to me that you in fact did not think critically about the repercussions of such an article, otherwise it would never have been posted.

    You say that the point of the article was to debate the “value of public allocutions” such as the one delivered Saturday. May I ask what exactly the value of this public article is? If the value was delivering one more outlet for people to make personal attacks on Brock, then you have succeeded.

    • Also, as i have looked at this again Dr. Switzer, I do applaud you for removing the vicious comments of some above. I had not seen that they had been removed prior to my first comment, yet I still stand by my original opinion that the article only invites those kinds of comments and attacks. Eugene thank you for realizing that this is no place for that; it shows you have more character and a better heart than many others.

      • Rachel, thank you for taking the time to voice your opinion. Yes, once I saw something in the replies that was inappropriate to the goals of this blog, I removed it.

        You raise a valid question concerning my blog post. You suggest that it has become a vehicle for increasing anger and pain and that it “invites” uncharitable comments and attacks. I disagree and I’d like to explain why.

        On Saturday, the senior orator had strong feelings and opinions. He voiced them in a way that wasn’t too helpful, and in a way that many found offensive. A few voiced their opposition with boos, but most could only sit quietly by, or perhaps depart. Their inability to express disagreement and discomfort is the reason why the orator’s tactics were unfair and unwise. As you validly point out, he left many people angry.

        But now you want to tell those who are hurt and disappointed (and justifiably angry) that it’s “no longer an issue.” It’s all said and done, and I think you’re telling these good folks to move on.

        Yes, moving on is good. But moving on comes only with healing. People not only need a forum to explain their disappointment, they ARE explaining it and this would be happening even if I didn’t have a blog. This blog didn’t cause the uproar, it’s a response to the uproar. Please don’t wrongly direct your own dissatisfaction toward this forum. The only thing it invites is response. As long as that response is respectful it will be allowed to stand, even if I disagree.

        In addition, please don’t mistake passion and conviction for a lack of charity. The vast majority of respondents on this blog have accomplished a commendable task. They have expressed their profound disagreement without being disagreeable. What happens on Facebook I am unable to control. This forum, however, won’t tolerate AD HOMINEM attacks.

        People will have their say whether this forum exists or not. But the blog itself, I hope, will be an example of passionate yet respectful debate. The stir will subside in a few days, but refusing to allow people to express their disappointment would only cause further frustration.

      • Rachel, I leave you with one final thought: No one prevented the senior orator from expressing his views. Shouldn’t we allow the same opportunity to those of us who disagree with his methods?

  29. Boone will probably not apologize. Remember him and remember that he stole from you a precious moment in your life. Should you have the opportunity to speak with him in the future, please remind him of the trust and responsibility that he squandered to put forth his foolish, nonsensical political rant.

  30. Dr. Switzer,

    Thank you for saying so eloquently and graciously what needed to be said concerning the 2012 Spring Hill Graduation Ceremony. As an alum and as a parent, I came away from the day with many mixed emotions: thrilled and humbled to see my daughter graduate, inspired by Judge Bivins’ address, awed by the tradition-rich Avenue of the Oaks, and profoundly disgusted by the ranting of Brock Boone. Without reiterating what I have already said in comments above, I believe Mr. Boone lowered himself, discredited his own arguments, and cast a stain upon what was otherwise a beautiful day. I was sad for the students, for the faculty, for the administration, for the parents, for the generous benefactors of the College, and for everyone in attendance, including Judge Bivins and the Archbishop. May 5, in those moments, was not about Red State-Blue State, race, gender, or theological persuasion…it certainly was not about Tequila. It was about hopes and dreams and coming together to celebrate as the Spring Hill family.

    Mr. Boone had a wonderful opportunity; one that very few ever have. He could have inspired all of us to consider how to be a more just and caring society, how to listen better to one another, how to give our lives in the service of others, how to innovate and create new solutions, how to transcend the partisan divide that separates us. Instead, he selfishly sought to exploit those divisions for his own amusement, self-aggrandizement, and notoriety. It struck me as bigoted, bullying, patronizing, and insulting. I wouldn’t have minded it so much had it not been deliberately perpetrated on such an important day.

    When I think back to the brilliant and winsome 2011 oration from Travis Brown, or other past Graduation Ceremonies, I lament that the Class of 2012 could not enjoy the same level of consideration. I can only hope that Mr. Boone can truly learn and progress from this time forward to become the man that I am sure he aspires to be.

    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to express our thoughts.

    Stephen Simpson
    Spring Hill Class of 1984

  31. Dr. Switzer,
    This is the last thing I am saying with this whole ridiculous ordeal. i am done with this, but must clarify my previous point. You ask me if I am saying people should not express there opinions or disappointment with his methods, but I never said they should not. Reread what I said. It said They have a right to an opinion about the speech and how it happened, and that is fine. I am have no problems with that. Expressing you anger with an occurrence is fine too. Whatever. Personally I do not care at all whether you agree with what happened or do not or whether you are angry because it did happen. Yet, this is not the only thing happening. When someone as a person rather than there actions become the focus of attack, then that is NEVER alright. Once again, other may try to tell me “well we we attacked.” My response would be that you may feel that way, but you were not PERSONALLY attacked. No one out there is tarnishing your name and image by plastering it all over the internet or calling you out as an individual. Those kinds of comments about a person whether it be the one I previously mentioned or even less harsh have no place and no right being on the internet. Someone on here wrote that Brock was engaged in bullying and bigotry. The personal attacks on this young man are in fact bullying at its finest. I am not limiting this to this article, and as I said, I am very happy that you would remove those things. Dr. Switzer let them say anything they want about the speech here, but even the slightest comment about him as a person should not stand. No one has any business to PUBLICLY call him things, even so slight as a jerk. You say they need healing, but they do not need to belittle him or his character to do so. That is my issue about all of this. I wrote what I said previously here and other places to make people aware that attacking the character of another person is unacceptable. Furthermore, I agree that these things, the expressions of frustration that is, would be happening even if you did not have blog, but at least it happening privately. The healing you speak of did not have to come publicly at the expense of Brock, this healing would have been just as effective had it been left to be priavtely handled among those who actually attended the graduation rather than in a public forum where anyone can see, comment, and partake.

    • “No one has any business to PUBLICLY call him things” … Did Brock not publicly and personally attack Rush Limbaugh as well as the entire fox news network.

    • Rachel,

      I’m afraid I must respectfully disagree with you, even though I appreciate your desire to protect Brock from ad hominem attacks. I have said that what Brock did was a form of bullying; I have said that it reflected bigotry on his part. Those are behaviors he demonstrated in public (quite public, in fact) and therefore it is not inappropriate to address those behaviors and discuss them publicly. And, it is not an ad hominem attack to note and critique these behaviors.

      It was also reported in the Mobile PRESS-REGISTER, which has stirred up quite a bit of controversy and earned Brock quite a bit of notoriety.

      I have also said that I hope things work out for Brock. I can imagine he’s taking a lot of heat for his comments. However, he made a very deliberate choice to say and do what he did. Part of being an adult and functioning in the real world is dealing with the consequences of words and actions. All of us in our lives have said and done things we regretted later.

      What Brock did, as has already been stated, was to deliberately insult and to provoke anger. Now, believe it or not, I believe there is a time when that is appropriate. Mother Teresa said, “You cannot comfort the afflicted without afflicting the comfortable.” Perhaps this was Brock’s ultimate goal. However, the venue he chose was inappropriate and inconsiderate of the others in attendance. Furthermore, his tone was not redemptive, but purposefully hostile and snarky.

      Yes, Rachel, many people took it personally. Deeply. He mischaracterized and mocked the values and beliefs of many present; he misled his fellow students and professors as to his intentions; he employed cliches and ill-conceived reasoning; and in so doing, he cast a pall of ugliness over what had been a beautiful day. Rachel, no one there can get that day back: not the students who worked so hard to reach the culmination of their academic careers; not the professors and administrators; not the parents who had been supportive (many of whom traveled great distance to attend). Now, of course, most of us will choose to focus on and remember the beautiful aspects of that day…I know I will. But there was needless pain in the process.

      This forum is not merely cathartic, but it can be instructive. That is, hopefully, all of us learn something from the experience. We also learn from hearing one another’s perspectives. More than once reading here, I’ve thought, “Well, I hadn’t considered that before.”

      Best wishes to you, to Brock, to and to the Spring Hill community.

      Stephen Simpson
      Spring Hill Class of 1984

      • What values did he mischaracterize and mock? (I’m seriously curious, not challenging what you’re saying. Still patiently waiting to get a transcript or video of the speech).

      • Mr. Boone violated hospitality. I did not get an official invite from the College, but assume it said something like “request the honor of your presence.” The audience were guests of the College. And, with that status, comes the assumption (correctly) that you will be treated in a particular way. If Mr. Boone wishes to invite people to a party and kick dirt in their faces, he is free to do that. However, these were not his guests.

        In some ways, I think of Mr. Boone as a victim. Someone has put into his mind that a person with good grades and civic acts can abuse people verbally. Also, it appears that someone has led him to believe that someone in his position does not need references, which almost always include statements about a candidate’s honesty. He does not realize that the higher you achieve in Latin honors (he is in the middle ranking), the higher the standard of behavior. In this he is fortunate–a Summa Cum Laude, 4.0 would not be given the benefit of the doubt.

    • Rachel, I applaud your sensitivity, but I believe Mr. Simpson’s very kind reply for you speaks volumes. I agree with him. I would like to point out, however, that the word “jerk” appears on this page only once, and that’s in your post above. I thank you for recognizing that I would remove any obvious personal attacks from this page. If I have overlooked any, please point them out.

  32. Dear Dr. Switzer:
    Your original message re: Saturday’s Spring Hill College commencement speech by Brock Boone was very well said… except I would have preferred a closing remark that included one of ‘life’s more important messages’ regarding ‘tact and diplomacy’ …one that it is more readily absorbed within your community than you might think. Then again, being the gentle and humble man that you are, I suppose that was not for you to say… So I will say it for you.
    Again, it’s called ‘tact and diplomacy!’ Makes me thing that the phrase in itself may have had its’ origin at a graduation ceremony gone awry , somewhere. Funny thing but because so many of our undereducated find themselves in a position of workplace authority somewhere, ‘proficiency levels in learning tact and diplomacy’ are actually taught by many companies, many local and state governments , outside the classroom… kind of like those who don’t come from Christian backgrounds are encouraged to take formal courses in ‘morals and ethics’ to help them get by. In one such course offered by one of our state’s governments, an individual achieves a higher level of proficiency in ‘tact and diplomacy’ if in honing their skills of one’s own interpersonal relationships, they actually pull people together rather than in polarizing or pulling them apart. What Mr. Boone said, though admittedly a very hard political lean to the left, could have been stated most professionally, without offending the masses, if only he had used a more effective tone to deliver his message. Because there were so many insensitive remarks from Mr. Boone, back to back, almost all with a cynically-delivered, harsh tone, HE DID NOT RELATE TO HIS AUDIENCE, INCLUDING THE MANY FELLOW STUDENTS AND PARENTS WHO SACRIFICED SO MUCH IN THE WAY OF FINANCIAL, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL SUPPORT WITH AN ACHIEVEMENT SUCH AS THIS THAT WAS SO WELL DESERVED, tells me Mr. Boone had his ears covered up during all of your (and your thoughtful colleagues’) thoughtful messages on sensitivity training which I know is still taught there. As for most of what I have observed since my college days, the average Spring Hill graduate rates a ‘four or a five on a scale of five’ on the same sensitivity meter(s), most of the time. For this, we should not let the misery index of one spoil the good fruit that has flourished from the roots and the vines of so many, their splendid family members, their many good friends and associates, whose lives they have so deeply touched and improved.
    In closing, I can recall with great fondness the words of Fr. Greg Lucey (from about eight years ago) when told that one of ‘the greatest intangibles’ about Spring Hill College, was that of its ‘unabashed charm’, to which Fr. Lucy replied that he had learned only a few years prior that the verb ‘to charm’ had a Greek origin which meant ‘to bring out the best in another!’ That said, may we continue as one standard-bearer of tactful and diplomatic learning, that we continue to bring out the very best in another.
    As for Mr. Boone, plain and simply, he made a mistake, not so much on what he said, but on how he said it. Perhaps by now he has already suffered the pain of his misjudgement. If he has not, or does not get it in the near future, there is always prayer. In the meantime, may God continue to bless you for what you do for Spring Hill College and for your fellow man, each and every day, as it is much appreciated.

    -Denis McCarthy, Spring Hill Class of 1972

  33. Mary Frances, that’s a fair question. Without the benefit of watching the video or reading the transcript, I want to be careful about specifics, but what he did repeatedly was offer blanket statements and mischaracterizations about the “myth of the American Dream”, “Red State values”, Christians “who don’t believe in evolution and don’t like immigrants”, “trickle-down economics”, people who are “brainwashed by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh”, don’t bother to work or try hard because the system is structured only for the benefit of the “1%”, and many other caricatures, straw men, and highly debatable points. Basically, he painted our state as a haven for ill-informed, angry, bigoted rednecks who are programmed by Right-Wing media hucksters. It was insulting and, especially with regard to the distinguished attendees, completely false.

    He began his speech with an attempt at humor regarding Cinco de Mayo, Mexican stereotypes, and student drunkenness; perhaps ill-considered in light of the fact that some of his fellow students were quite hung over from the night before (and at least one, reportedly, too hung over to come to his own graduation ceremony). He also took a mean-spirited mocking tone against a local Baptist University that frowns upon drunkenness. He has a right to hold the views he holds; but he could have presented his views respectfully and honored the occasion. It was timing, tone, and venue that was most upsetting to many in attendance.

    • Thanks for your time in responding, Mr. Simpson. Also, I do regret calling parents who are upset about this “whiners” the other day. I hope you accept my apology for doing so. I must admit that I agree with Mr. Boone to varying degrees on the litany of political positions you listed in the first paragraph…however I think that he was wrong to turn this into a place to vent those positions (a blog such as Prof. Switzer’s would have been a more appropriate venue), AND I do not think that the negative connotations he seems to have attached to them apply to Spring Hill College.

      It seems like yesterday (it was 2009) that I was Spring Hill’s commencement orator. I must say, I’m glad my speech didn’t cause a stir like this. 🙂 I was heading out the door to law school in Washington, DC, equipped with Jesuit ideals of serving the greater good and loving God by loving and serving my brothers and sisters. A day scarcely passes where my experience in Nicaragua where I served the poor shoulder to shoulder with other SHC students of all political persuasions doesn’t impact what I choose to do.

      Spring Hill never taught me that capitalism is an inherently bad thing or that it is solely responsible for the greed we experience in our society (although an Encyclical I read in Catholic Social Thought made me think it can play a role and that capitalists have the responsibility to shed their practices of injustice…but those aren’t my words, they’re Pope John Paul II’s) –but Spring HIll did teach me to discern…and I have begun to think over the years that the income and wealth inequalies in this country caused by racism (some good readin’ for you–i recommend this book: http://www.brandeis.edu/provost/diversity/texts/diversitypdfs/The_Hidden_Cost_of_Being_African_American.pdf), complete deregulation of the market and predatory lending practices, the shipping of US jobs overseas in order to increase corporate bottom line, et. al., are things that God would find disgusting.

      I went to law school because of the mission Spring Hill gave me to serve those in need. So far I’ve worked with immigrants (which, despite Mr. Boone’s statement, good ole’ Christianity inspired me to serve) and now I work with a labor union, in large part inspired by Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement, which Dr. Wilson taught me to admire. My fellow students and some wonderful professors also first taught me that it’s ok that I happen to be gay, something that I will never be able to thank them enough for (in fact, I’m tearing up a little bit as I write this). They may have saved my life.

      I’m sure other students took away different lessons from Spring Hill. That’s the good thing about Spring Hill…you get the freedom to take away from it what you want. Many of my Spring Hill colleagues and I disagree about women’s issues and even the social justice issues I mentioned above. At the end of the day, though, we should never be without tact, and it seems like Mr. Boone’s decisions on commencement day were tactless. We should call out injustices where they exist, but we should always do it tactfully and in the right time and place. I’m sorry that people feel as though that very special day was ruined, but the beef of my sentiment in my earlier post remains: your kids have done something very rare. It’s such a privilege to graduate from college. I hope Mr. Boone learns more about appropriate advocacy and message-delivery in law school. (Although I don’t know how much hope there is for that–I certainly learned more at Spring Hill than law school).

      Best,

      Mary Frances

      • Mary Frances, thanks for such a thoughtful and eloquent reply. It is definitely possible (and preferable) to have a civil — even cordial — dialogue about issues where we may have some disagreement. It may even be that we are, in many cases, desiring the same result, while differing on what might be the best path to take.

        I think many conservatives are quite sore about regularly being portrayed as heartless, unjust, or ignorant. Most conservatives I know and work with give generously of their time and money to serve others who may be disadvantaged or disenfranchised, and care very deeply about alleviating human suffering. You, and many who may be politically liberal like you, also care deeply and are taking selfless actions to be agents of God’s mercy. I think you and I therefore agree and find hope in these good outcomes. It is in the “getting there” where we may have to wrangle a bit!

        When I was a student at Spring Hill, it seemed I was in the minority as a conservative among the students. And I cannot recall having any openly conservative professors. I remember in my first year, one of my professors was a particularly outspoken liberal, and at first, she and I did not get along. I thought it was my duty to continually challenge her. One day, my Dad told me, “Son, you’re there to learn, not to teach.” That was his subtle way of telling me to talk less and listen more. It was good advice, and I came to genuinely like and respect that professor.

        There is definitely a time and place to express our views, and we should always appreciate our uniqueness as individuals. A few days ago, I heard author Marcus Buckingham say, “Find out what is unique about you and then make that useful to others.” I like the implications of that statement. Sounds like that’s what you’ve done, and sincere congratulations to you.

        Best wishes to you, Mary Frances, from — yes, a conservative — but more importantly, your brother in Christ and fellow Badger!

        Stephen Simpson
        Spring Hill Class of 1984

  34. Mary Frances and Mr. Simpson, I am duly impressed with your respectful dialogue. Mary Frances, I am thrilled to hear you reflecting fairly upon such difficult issues as you mention. I hope you’ll also ask if government might have a role in causing or worsening some of the problems we face. That is a legitimate question.

  35. I’m a little late jumping into all of this but I’d like to throw in my 2 cents. I don’t agree with what Brock did. At all. It was misplaced and offensive. But as a graduate from the class of 2011 I left knowing that SHC was a family, and always would be. Once a badger, always a badger. Families forgive each other. It saddens me to see some of the harsh words towards Brock from both parents and students. He made a mistake, and I am sure he is paying for it dearly without scrutiny from everyone who has a connection with SHC. That being said, I am not trying to criticize anyone who has voiced their opinion on the matter but I do believe we should keep in mind that SHC is a family and we can’t keep attacking a member of our family for his mistake.
    It wasn’t my graduation, but if it was I think I would have been first in line to let him know that he was still part of the spring hill family, no matter what.

  36. I offer my thanks to everyone who took the time to voice their opinions on this matter in a respectful, if passionate tone. It’s good that the furor has begun to die down. At this time no further comments are being logged for this particular post.

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