The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday August 12th

Paying for commencement speakers: Keep it pro bono

UNC’s policy of not paying Commencement speakers ensures that the University draws people with a real desire to speak here.

We send a message that UNC is looking for speakers who are committed to delivering an address tailored to the student body.

By contrast, speakers on the lecture circuit might simply come with canned remarks or their own political message — not to mention a hefty price tag.

For example, former president Bill Clinton reportedly charges about $150,000 to speak. And New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman charges $50,000 for each appearance.

Besides, simply finding a big name and paying a lot of money does not guarantee a good speech.

We’d be paying for names only, in a sense, with no guarantee that the speaker would be directly addressing the UNC community.

Furthermore, not paying speakers sends an egalitarian message: that lacking a big name and a big price tag doesn’t mean a speaker doesn’t have an inspiring message.

For those who doubt UNC’s ability to draw exciting names, one needn’t look farther than our latest two speakers: John Grisham and Desmond Tutu.

It’s clear that UNC is enough of a draw. There’s no real justification for doling out an exorbitant amount.

Commencement is the exciting culmination of long hours of hard work and dedication. That’s why we deserve a speaker whose motivation is a desire to engage the students of UNC — not simply to earn a pretty penny.

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