A Goddard College Alumna Responds to the Mumia Abu-Jamal Commencement Address

Haybarn Theatre: Goddard Commencment 2014

“I shot the motherfucker and I hope the motherfucker dies.”
-- Mumia Abu-Jamal, shortly after his arrest for the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner and as heard by several witnesses (Philly.com)

As a Goddard Alum, I posted, on October 4, 2014, the following message on Goddard’s MFA Facebook page:

I am a Goddard graduate, and I protest the commencement speaker who is cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal.
He killed a man in absolute cold blood (the killer was stopped for a traffic violation) and should not be extolled by a college that embraces peace and love.
While I agree that no one should be executed and am glad that execution for Jamal was taken off the table, I believe this man should spend the rest of his life in prison.
I am disappointed that the college I love would choose a cold-blooded killer to be a commencement speaker.
Therefore, I will be withholding future donations until further notice.

So Goddard College has garnered its 15 minutes of fame.
Too bad it’s for all the wrong reasons.
Not very original, either.
Evergreen and Antioch Colleges have already beat it to the punch.
Therefore, Goddard becomes just another follower, not a leader.
A graduation speech should be a celebration of the graduates’ scholastic accomplishments, not a soap box for convicted killers.
Of the 23 graduates, 3 have decided not to attend.
What about the three absent voices? I would like to hear what they have to say.
Do they feel as if their graduation ceremony has been hijacked? I sure would.
I feel as if my alma mater has been hijacked.
Dissenting voices at Goddard (other than the majority) are often silenced, where leaning moderate or even slightly to the left is not considered cool. At least this was true back in the early 1990’s, when I was a student (although I have/had never let this stop me from speaking up).
Still, I had always considered the “Goddard voice” an important one, even when I disagreed with the tone (for example, some strident voices referring to heterosexuals as “breeders” – I answered that one, too).
Look. I’m not opposed to bringing this killer’s “message” to the campus – some misguided souls seem to be convinced of his innocence, and if they can make a case for this, then, perhaps, they should pursue this possibility, but commencement is not the place or time.
A Mumia Abu-Jamal project could be done in various ways, such as a project for a student or an event on campus.
But a graduation speaker should be someone who uplifts and sends graduates off into the world with an inspiring message, and, sometimes, that means someone non-controversial AND accomplished, someone like Col. Chris Hadfield, well-liked and admired (yes, he’s white and seems to be relatively conservative in his views).
The only thing this killer has accomplished: the cold-blooded murder of a human being and the decimation of his innocent family.
This sickens me.
What else is there to say?
Truly, Goddard has definitely jumped the shark.





Philly.com (Consider Facts on Cop Killing, Op-Ed piece by Michael Smerconish) 


Jennifer Semple Siegel, the webmaster of this blog, graduated from Goddard College in 1994 with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing.


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