May 3, 2012

Brig. gen. to speak at Commencement

ard Law School graduate and Medal of Freedom Recipient, has been chosen as this year’s commencement speaker.

Martins, who was also a member of the Harvard Law Review with now-President Barack Obama, was not on the final list of speakers preferred by graduating seniors. However, senior class Vice President Gordon Barratt said most seniors are excited about the choice.

“Honestly, it’s been really good feedback [from the senior class],” Barratt said. “[Some] were skeptical or critical of the decision, but the response to those people was maybe 20 or 30 seniors on the Facebook page defending our decision.”

Barratt, who was the only senior class officer to respond to a request for comment on the subject, said the main concern among those who do not approve of the speaker was his lack of a “big” name.

“Every year, there’s always going to be somebody that’s not happy that we didn’t get Oprah or something,” Barratt said. “People expect us to have Stephen Colbert and Barack Obama every year.”

Barratt feels that Martins is qualified to give a commencement speech. Martins, according to the United States Central Command website, commands the recently-formed Role of Law Field Force in Afghanistan. He was also appointed by President Barack Obama as chief prosecutor for the Guantanamo Bay military commissions.

“The most important thing in a commencement speaker is having somebody that’s really good at speaking, has a good perspective to give,” Barratt said. “[You want] a successful, intelligent person who probably has good advice to give the graduating seniors.”

President Teresa Amott agrees that Martins is a qualified speaker.

“This speaker stands in the tradition of Knox’s long commitment to justice, democracy and engagement with pressing moral issues of the times,” Amott said in a campus-wide email, “and his commitment to transparency and the rule of law are very much consistent with our tradition of Veritas.”

TKS Asks: What do you think of Martins’ selection as commencement speaker?

“It’s exciting … especially since we’re so focused on … people into legal work and academia rather than those who are out there doing hands-on work.”

-Rayann Parkinson ’12

“He’s kind of interesting. I don’t know if he’s relevant to the situations that apply here. I think he’d be good for a guest lecture, but not for this big capstone.”

-Cameron King ’12

“I’m pleased with who they found, even though I didn’t know who he was. I feel like as long as he wants to talk with us … he will be a valid choice.”

-Rachel Clark ’12

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