The Punchline

Speech! Speech! Charlie Sheen as a commencement speaker?

Katharine Crnko Mar 4, 2011

As I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed this week, I noticed that a large chunk of my college friends had joined a new group — “Charlie Sheen for Commencement Speaker GWU 2012.” Now — full disclosure: I graduated from The George Washington University last May, and was proud to have First Lady Michelle Obama as my commencement speaker. As my graduating class faced one of the worst employment markets in history, First Lady Obama spoke beautifully at our graduation on the National Mall. She encouraged us to persevere through the gloomy job market, and to use our energy and enthusiasm to serve our communities.

So imagine my shock that the GW student body had made such a dramatic turn in just 10 months. But GW students certainly aren’t alone. Schools like the University of Georgia, University of Missouri at Columbia and West Chester University have also started similar Facebook campaigns.

The movement has attracted the attention of college newspapers, higher education websites, and The Huffington Post. These petitions could be indicative of the mood across college campuses. Perhaps students have become immune to pump-up speeches. They don’t want to to hear apologies for a lackluster job market and student loan payments, or the “Hang in there, it’ll get better” battle cry. Maybe students appreciate the spontaneity of Charlie Sheen’s recent public appearances and his enthusiasm for living life to its fullest. Or maybe students want to hear more about F-18s and tiger blood, and how they too can win the Oscar for Best Picture at 20. Winning!

But it’s hard to image what Sheen’s advice would be to the graduating classes, especially since his actions have been harmful — not only to his own self image — but to others around him, namely the hundreds of CBS employees who face losing their jobs because his show has been canceled. Maybe GW should just stick to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is scheduled to be their commencement speaker this year.

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