Half of CSU spring graduates will in fact not hear Secretary Fudge’s address

CSU seniors start petition for the morning commencement ceremony to hear Secretary Fudge’s speech

By: Maggie Phillips

Despite the recent announcement that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge will be the spring commencement speaker, many graduating students at Cleveland State University cannot see Secretary Fudge’s address

A recent email from the university revealed that students in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), the School of Nursing, and the College of Sciences and Health Professions will hear an address from President Harlan Sands in the morning session of graduation rather than Secretary Fudge.

CLASS students have been particularly angered by their inability to see the keynote speaker. Two graduating CLASS students- Audrey Hancock and Aurora Reardanz- launched a petition earlier this week urging the university to address the situation.

Reardanz- a double major in International Relations and Nonprofit Administration- spoke with “The Cauldron” about her disappointment in being unable to see Secretary Fudge’s commencement address.

“[CLASS students] are particularly frustrated since Marcia Fudge is a leader in our federal government. These students spend years learning about US history, governmental structures, theories of political science and international relations… How is her voice less relevant to CLASS students than the colleges who will hear her?”

Hancock- a triple major in Political Science, International Relations, and French Language and Culture- added to Reardanz’s frustrations.

“The fact that she is such an important, and might I add local, role model for political science students and we are not getting to hear her speak is tactless on the part of CSU.”

While Secretary Fudge’s keynote address has been advertised widely, the exclusion of certain colleges was not made as clear. Hancock brought up this issue of transparency in informing the student body of the situation. 

“I think what is particularly frustrating is how much they have advertised her as keynote speaker but have hardly mentioned that half the students will not get a chance to see her.” 

Hancock continued, “It feels deceitful and not transparent in the slightest…The only way you would know is if you read this one bullet point on this one specific email.”

The petition, which addresses President Sands and the university administration, demands the university “rectify this problem immediately” to allow all students the chance to hear Secretary Fudge speak. It suggests that if the speaker cannot attend both sessions, CSU should provide an alternative method for allowing CLASS students to see the address- either by attending the later graduation session or creating access virtually. The full letter and petition can be found here.

“We want Secretary Fudge to speak at both commencements or have there be some kind of compromise where the university listens to the feelings of their students and makes sure that their commencement is equal for everyone,” stated Hancock.

Reardanz urged all graduating students who support their cause to sign the petition and let the University know their thoughts.

“Marcia Fudge is a symbol of the bright future ahead for ALL students graduating from Cleveland State University…If this issue concerns you, please also send emails to the graduation committee, dean, and president to share your voice.”

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