For the first time, the University of Montana will hold its graduation ceremony on the Oval. Administrators ostensibly made the switch because the school's president, George Dennison, is giving the commencement address, presumably to offer a public trip down memory lane before he retires in August. But we have all summer to bid our farewells, and so we thought we'd suggest a few alternative commencement speakers who might provide this year's graduates more practical words of wisdom.
How about Don Malerk, the human resource manager at Missoula's taxpayer-subsidized DirecTV call center? Last year Malerk fired an employee for organizing a walkout, and last month the company, after the National Labor Relations Board accused it of union busting, settled the case. Instead of a ho-hum "reach for the stars" speech, we think Malerk could tell graduates something useful, like that corporations have the upper hand in an economy like this, and it's futile to think you can improve working conditions.
Speaking of jobs, maybe UM could bring in a medical marijuana clinic owner. After all, "ganjapreneurs" with their "cannabusinesses" make up what appears to be the only booming industry in the state. Plus, the trend gives some graduates the ability to pursue an activity they truly excelled in while in college—you know, as long as they're willing to run the risk of anti-marijuana militants chucking Molotov cocktails through their dispensary window.
Or maybe UM could go back to basics and choose someone to read Robert Fulghum's platitudinous mantras from his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. We'd suggest Gov. Brian Schweitzer, known for his irksome cowboy clichés, deliver that speech, but evidently he didn't learn much in kindergarten. After all, Schweitzer recently held elected officials across the state hostage by withholding stimulus funds unless they backed the development of the Otter Creek coal tracts. But maybe he could address the graduates anyway, explaining the incredible science behind how Montana coal, when burned in China, doesn't contribute to climate change here.
But, alas, we'll have to settle for Dennison. Who knows, he may wow us with a tearjerker as moving as the excavators that dug up campus throughout his tenure. In any case, we suspect Saturday's graduates, with all of their reasons to despair, will be thinking of other things—like wishing that they were on the couch watching DirecTV, "medicating" in their black-lit dorm room, or reflecting back on the simplicity of kindergarten.