Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Official Royal Purple commencement speech

May 4, 2015

Royal Purple Staff Opinion

The Royal Purple wants to give a heartfelt congratulations to all of UW-Whitewater’s 2016 graduates.
We’re losing quite a few good reporters and editors in the newsroom, so we’re feeling the nostalgia along with everyone else. We decided that, in the tradition of all things trite and cliché, we should draft our own banal commencement speech.

As the semester winds down and the vast, intimidating future unfolds, we’re supposed to ask ourselves in a moment of intense introspection, was it all worth it? Did higher education provide us with the skills and mental capacity we need to survive in the “real world?”

Per traditional college commencement speech, now is the time to launch into a didactic little parable to symbolically frame the scope of our speech in a larger context. Please excuse me while I lazily transition to the first person for the following narration.
This feels much better, thank you.

Anyways, I had a revelation on St. Patrick’s Day this year. My friends and I had spent the morning, as many students do, on the front porch of my apartment, sipping cheap beer and laughing whilst Ping-Pong balls bounced haphazardly in the background.
One domestic brew led to another, and I eventually found myself needing to use the restroom. I finished what was left of my drink, politely excused myself from conversation and headed to the backdoor of my apartment. Once inside I noticed, largely from smell, my roommate cooking some deplorable form of Hamburger Helper. Smoke billowed from the frying pan, yet he seemed unfazed – complacent even – standing there, spatula in hand, in the smoky hamburger hell that used to be our kitchen.

I continued to the restroom.

As I dried my hands and exited the bathroom, the fire alarm in our apartment sounded, set off by the blackened, hamburger monstrosity. “What should I do?” My roommate asked me frantically, a look so genuine painted on his face I couldn’t even laugh.

“You gotta take a towel to it,” I said quickly – the lack of specificity to my instructions, I assume, was in part the result of my general short-temperedness with my roommate (and part alcohol-induced). What I meant to convey was that he needed to fan the alarm with a towel to get the smoke away from it. But that part got lost in translation, I guess.

My roommate’s eyes became a bit sharper, and he reached for a rag on the counter, nodding as if he knew exactly what I meant. Then he took the rag, balled it up in one hand and held it completely motionless by the fire detector.

The alarm did not stop.

But I went back to the porch.

Now comes the part of the speech when I tell you that my anecdote, though intended to incite laughter, carries a deeper meaning.

You can tell a college student exactly what to do in life, but if the student is incapable of critical thinking and practical application, all the instructions in the world are meaningless.

Are you capable of critical thinking? Or will you stand around post-graduation with a balled up towel while the kitchen metaphorically burns around you?

As graduates, we need to go into the world with the ability to follow instructions, but we also need to read between the lines. We should be asking ourselves big-picture questions like why do we work? What do we hope to get from our careers? But perhaps most importantly, what are the repercussions for our actions?

The vast majority of problems in our world, society – whatever – arise from a lack of empathy and the pursuit of self-interest. Western ideologies instill in us from the day we’re born a profound sense of self-importance. It’s only after we’ve thought critically and stood apart from those ideologies that we can adequately criticize them and make our world a better place.
Good luck graduates. And before you fan the fire detector, always ask yourself why. Thank you.

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Founded 1901
Official Royal Purple commencement speech