My Thoughts on President Donald Trump Speaking at Liberty University’s 2017 Commencement

by Jeremy Carden

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Considering how much President Donald Trump has been in the news (and Twitter) before and after his entry into the White House, I just wanted to give some of my thoughts about him speaking at Liberty University this weekend.

Let me just put it out there; I am just a student at Liberty University. My academic career for the time being will be coming to a close within the next few days after I turn in my final paper.

I have had an amazing time both as an online and residential student. Not to mention, I am about to hit my third year working for Liberty’s online department as an academic advisor.

My current job title aside, I am writing this post as a student and NOT as an employee of the university.

No one pressured me into writing this post, and I am just going to discuss my own feelings about this particular commencement speaker.

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I want to speak to everyone that is questioning why Trump is speaking at this particular university’s commencement despite all of the controversy surrounding his character.

Politics and whatnot aside, a lot of people do not think Trump’s personality and religious beliefs make him someone that would fit the glove of a “Liberty University commencement speaker.”

The thing about Liberty students that has astounded me over the past couple of years is the group of people who either mail back their degrees along with expressing feelings of shame for even being a Liberty student at all.

At the end of the day, Donald Trump and Jerry Fawell Jr. are not the professors who taught the classes that students had to pass in order to earn their credit hours. SallieMae and other loan agencies are not going to wipe away the debt that students owe just because they were Liberty students (if they are can someone let me know? Seriously, I need this student loan monkey off of my back…).

Jokes aside,  I do not think that the decisions of President Falwell supporting Donald Trump justify any past or present Liberty student for feeling like their connection to the university has been tarnished.

Do I agree with everything the university has been doing over the past few years?

As a student, I feel that Liberty University is not the same college that I visited back in 2008 as a young College for a Weekend (C.F.A.W) student. Some of the values and direction of the school seems to have shifted since I walked around campus a few years ago.

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However, I have lived in Lynchburg away from the campus for about three years now. Yes, I have worked for the school for almost three years, but working at an off-campus site and living on campus are two different things.

I cannot give a true insight about my thoughts on the school because I have not been there for awhile. I can only speak about my time there, and some of the differences that I have noticed. My job does not allow me to see behind the scenes as to why some of the decisions that have been were made. I just hope Liberty continues to be a positive institution of education and faith rather than the political convention that a lot of people view it as today.

With that being said, I want to get back to the students who are willingly mailing back their degrees. You are throwing away four years (or more) of your life away just because you get angered by the decisions of another person. With that in mind, I hate thinking that some people are not going to commencement just because Trump is speaking.

Even if you do not go to the main ceremony, I hope that you will go to your individual ceremony to cross the stage. Graduates, you have EARNED this! There is no reason to not go just because you disagree or dislike the people standing behind the podium at the football stadium on Saturday morning.

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I have to say as a person who does not really dabble in politics or identify myself with a particular political party, it is pretty cool to say the President of the United States is speaking at my commencement!

Come on, not a lot of college students have the privilege to say that about their graduation. Sure, their speaker may have a better commencement speech, but level with me on this one here.

I go into all of my thoughts regarding the upcoming commencement in this video:

Consider this a video that you can listen to in the background while you are making dinner or cleaning out your closet. Maybe you will nod your head in agreement to some of the things that I say, or you will immediately dislike my video before shutting off your computer.

Regardless, I would like to get some feedback in the comment below. It is always interesting to get the thoughts of others on topics like this.

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I would like to request that if you disagree with others below, please refrain from tearing each other apart. Respectfully engage in a conversation with others that will leave both parties thinking about the topic at hand.

Am I angry or excited about Donald Trump speaking at my commencement this year? 

I will put it like this; I am excited to be graduating! Republican candidate Mitt Romney spoke at my commencement in 2012 (yes, I have a few Liberty degrees under my belt). I was actually excited about a man who could possibly be the next President of the United States of America was speaking at graduation!

However, I was disappointed that his speech and just the atmosphere of that particular day was more about politics than the actual graduates. I was sitting with the other graduates, and I was astounded on how divided the crowd was.

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Whenever Romney said something that had even an ounce of political substance behind it; half of the stadium applauded while the rest were as stiff as stones.

I have no doubt that the same thing may occur this weekend. Also, it would not surprise me if there is a lot of booing and jeering going on…

Considering everything that has occurred in the past year around Liberty’s campus, I would not be surprised if there are large groups of protesters this weekend. Maybe more protesters than actual graduates…

Walking into the main ceremony, I want it to feel like a true graduation. Not a riot like the desegregation movement in schools or people boycotting a business for making “offensive statements.”

Honestly, I want this to be a great commencement. I want Trump to give a great speech to inspire us graduates! We are about to go into the real world outside of Blackboard and weekly school assignments. I want to get a speech that will inspire me to go out into the world and make a difference while becoming a better person.

Overall, if he gives a great speech that we will be talking about for weeks to come (in a positive way) then I will be satisfied.

I want truth and a sincere speech rather than a false sense of religious beliefs to blend in with the university that this event will be taking place at.

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To everyone traveling to Lynchburg this week, I hope you have a safe trip! It might be raining, and “Drenchburg” does not play when it comes to the weather.

Just remember that use this weekend to cheer for your graduating family members and friends. Do not let the true purpose of this event drown in the sea of politics (and possibly rain) because this is a defining moment of achievement for the students!

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One thought on “My Thoughts on President Donald Trump Speaking at Liberty University’s 2017 Commencement

  1. Patricia says:

    Very well written young man. I couldn’t agree with you more. Congratulations, best wishes.

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