Sunday, May 15, 2011

Martin Castro: Obama appointee injects traditional Commencement ceremony with national politics

Around this time of the year, we often see reports, from universities throughout the country, about Graduation ceremonies dominated with liberal (& in some cases, ULTRA-liberal) Commencement speakers.

Fortunately, the capital-city university in our state (UIS) has been able to avoid overly-politicized (re: current affairs) Commencement speeches. Last year's UIS Commencement speaker is a former Republican elected official, but she avoided promoting her personal viewpoints, regarding the contemporary controversial national topics.

The Hon. Karen Hasara is now a member of the statewide University of Illinois Board of Trustees (BOT), and an alumna of our university (the University of IL at Springfield) was on stage again, this year, but the Commencement speaker was Martin Castro, a member of the Obama Administration, serving as Chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and a Chicago Democrat.

Still, I was expecting a motivational talk at yesterday's Commencement ceremony, reflecting on his life & career experience, and dealing with certain topics, but not pushing his personal opinions, regarding current, national-level hot-button issues. (The latter type of speech is common at other university Commencements, but not for the University of Illinois at Springfield [UIS].)

I was surprised therefore, at the topics Martin Castro chose to inject, within his speech. He praised the "Illinois Dream Act" - and said that Interim UIS Chancellor Harry Berman supports this measure, to help "undocumented immigrant students" (who may include some of those, "here" in the audience!). I was surprised to hear that the UIS administration was supporting the "IL Dream Act"... Was this decided upon, at a "Campus Senate" meeting (of which most UIS students are unaware)? I see that the UIS Student Government Association (SGA) did vote to approve this. However: Other than a representative of a student group, supporting that proposal (& the reporter the UIS Journal sends), I doubt anyone else was at the meeting! I'm almost-sure the SGA members heard no differing viewpoints, and were most-likely unaware that this bill would, in fact, require taxpayer-funding of new services, for illegal aliens. [The podcast of the meeting might make interesting - or uninteresting, that is! - listening.] Despite these circumstances, the supporters of this state legislation can (supposedly) now claim that "the University supports" the Illinois Dream Act.
Update: Upon watching the video of this SGA meeting, I see that the members were relying on 3rd-hand information about the Illinois legislation, which was partly-inaccurate. Almost no one was in the audience, & no one presented the opposing view. Despite these circumstances, the SGA passed the "Resolution" by just a one-vote majority (6 out of 11).

(Apparently, some members of the Illinois Senate may also be unaware of what specifically this piece of legislation does!)

[I will be doing a separate post, about the aforementioned issue.]

...Castro blasted efforts to "change the 14th Amendment"; How many of those here, he said, would be so-dramatically hurt, by that?

He praised affirmative action, and discussed how the Commission successfully helped stop the University of Michigan lawsuit that sought to end those programs, in collegiate admissions.

He heaped praise on the President, and repeated several other hot-button issue talking points.

I wonder if this was the most politicized Commencement Address that the University of Illinois at Springfield (UIS) has ever had.

Maybe that's just the "Chicago way"?! ;-)

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