Commencement protests should remain outside

As our Opinion pages today demonstrate, the debate over the commencement speaker is still raging within the PSU community. Some students say they’ll happily attend to hear Katie Harman speak of her experiences, while others plan on participating in demonstrations outside the Rose Garden to oppose her selection.

The most concerning plans we have heard, however, come from those graduates who are so bitter they plan to openly protest Harman when she walks on stage. Students have talked about putting headphones or earmuffs on upon Harman’s entrance, holding a newspaper in front of their faces, or even turning their backs to the current Miss America to demonstrate their spite.

Not only are those plans ineffective and immature, but the ensuing disruption would be utterly disrespectful to someone who deserves better.

While we have received letters and phone calls opposing Harman’s selection, none have been about Harman as an individual. As an accomplished opera singer, an effective public speaker and a representative of Portland State University, Harman deserves to be received by mature and tolerant graduates.

We encourage those students and graduates who wish to protest Harman’s appearance to participate in those planned activities outside the Rose Garden; but if you choose to enter the arena, you should also be prepared to treat Harman (and the graduates who have looked forward to this event) with the appropriate level of respect.