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Matthew Hein

Dear Speaker Selection Committee,

Re: Why I should be Summer Commencement speaker:

I’m a little surprised not to have heard from you yet. I know you must be terribly busy, and I understand that many demands are being made on your time and energies. There are balloons to secure, Jostens representatives to placate, banners to be designed, printed and hung. I am fully aware that you have your proverbial hands full.

Nonetheless, I feel the pressing need to remind you that August is right around the corner. Summer Commencement is approaching rapidly, and I still have not received formal confirmation from you regarding my role as keynote speaker.

I too am a busy person. Should you wish to secure my services, it is in your best interest to send a missive my way with all due deliberate speed. Because I am in such great demand, I often find myself making plans days, even weeks, in advance. I can only keep the date open for so long.

Of course, I am keenly aware the University wishes to eschew the sort of hubbub that accompanied recent commencement speaker decisions. Perhaps, to that end, you are double-checking my lengthy resume. That might account for your delay in getting back to me. I wholeheartedly understand your position, but I feel inclined to remind you that speed is of the essence. The controversy that would ensue should you fail to procure my oratory services next month would shake this city to its very core.

You are familiar with the riots that closed the streets of Paris in May of 1968? Consider those events mere child’s play. The University, the city, and the very health of our nation depend upon your actions at this important juncture.

I am keeping the date open. I have lots of things to say.

Oh, the platitudes I have aligned! Such broad generalizations and useless advice have not seen the light of day since – well, since the Spring Commencement. After all, this is a time for new, greater statements. Only the most hackneyed clich퀌�s are worthy of our fine graduates. In this new, post-Cold War, post-sheep cloning, new millennium, post-Sept. 11 world, graduates face great challenges, but also great opportunities.

What with the nation’s current shaky economy, graduates should be expected to live out the Portland State motto, letting their knowledge serve the city, in an entirely literal way, serving the city coffee, beer and dessert.

This is truly an era of new challenges. But with these challenges come responsibilities. Chief among these responsibilities is that of repaying student loans.

To that end, my commencement address will focus on such innovative financial techniques as creative accounting and tracking down wealthy distant relatives. Naturally, my address will conclude with a reminder of the importance of such bedrock platitudes as perseverance and determination. This is a new epoch, after all, and we must all persevere with determination as we look our responsibilities, opportunities and challenges squarely in their eyes.

Let me make something entirely clear right now. I am completely aware that there will be those who wonder whether I am qualified to dole out advice and inspiration to such an impressive group of degree recipients. There will always be naysayers and professional protesters, malcontents and others who are jealous of my success. Pay no attention to these un-American postmodern chumps. They desire to strip Victor the Viking of his horns. They will surely complain that I have been chosen primarily due to my good looks. To them I say: phnea!

Great men and women, great ideas and grand movements toward progress have always met with resistance. I beg of you, administration, do not bend to the whims of these little minds. Resist this resistance. There will inevitably be those who claim they are “insulted” by my selection as keynote speaker. Do not let their emotions stand in the way of a meaningful and emotional experience. Personally, I am insulted by their feeling insulted. It’s insulting!

The administration must not cower in the face of such whining. I am proud to represent PSU to the world, and the world is happy to have me. I admit that some of my accomplishments have been abetted by my sparkling eyes and Herculean biceps. Naturally, a few of my many fans are attracted to me merely because of my naturally colored chestnut-sunset coif. I assure you, these people do not represent the greater majority of my admirers. Judging me, or the PSU community, by their actions displays an utter lack of respect for tolerance and diversity.

Those seeking to formalize their graduation this August must not be denied their rightful dose of pseudo-inspirational droning. But who will fill this lacuna? If you, my friends in the administration, do not make some contact with me soon, these poor students will be compelled to enter the world without the benefit of my advice. Are you prepared to live with that? Can you really call yourselves educators if you deny your charges this great opportunity? After all, these are times of great opportunity. But with that opportunity also come great challenges. And with those challenges come great responsibilities.

So let us get down to brass tacks. Now is the time for us to join together in our diversity. From this day forward, let us stand hand in hand, facing the future with courage and solidarity.

What you need to understand here, my friends, is such courage and solidarity doesn’t come cheaply. I imagine some among you may be blanching at my fee. Please, do not let a few dollars stand in the way of giving your students the very best in a commencement experience. We must have the courage of our convictions – and I have not recorded a single conviction. My record is spotless.

It may seem I have not made large enough contributions to society. Perhaps it is this concern that is delaying your confirmation of my role as keynote speaker?

Let me assure you, I have undergone unique experiences I believe the student body would benefit from hearing about.

Just last weekend I visited Astoria, and the things I saw there have contributed immensely to my personal and spiritual growth. There are teenagers in that town without record stores! I have seen coffee shops without soymilk! I have witnessed consecutive blocks of roadway without electronic billboards! The courage and determination Astorians, our fellow Americans, have shown in the face of such challenges, is truly an inspiration to us all.

I beseech you, administration, do not let this opportunity pass you by. Embrace the full range of human experience in a deeply meaningful manner by signing me up to deliver a keynote address at next month’s Summer Commencement.

Accept the grave responsibilities that accompany your status. Face the future with a stout heart and a clear mind. Persevere through difficulties. Reach for the stars. Only the greatest and grandest of platitudes can save us now.

Sincerely, M. Hein, Bachelor of Arts