Letter to the editor


John  Ambacher

Professor Emeritus

Department of Political Science

First, let me state that I am not an objective observer regarding this year’s commencement speaker – I served on the Commencement Speaker Advisory Committee and I enthusiastically endorsed the selection of Chris Herren for the commencement position. Let me also state that I can appreciate The Gatepost editorial taking a stand against Herren as the speaker. However, what I am having a hard time digesting is the convoluted and illogical argument presented in The Gatepost editorial of April 8.   

How can the Gatepost conclude the audience will be traumatized by hearing “Herren’s horror story.” First, where is the horror story in an individual recounting how he overcame a serious addiction and then dedicated his life to helping others overcome their addiction? And are we to assume that we must shield an adult audience, as well as newly graduating students from what really goes on in the “real” world? If my memory is still functioning, in the four decades long attendance at Framingham graduating ceremonies, I can remember the eloquent and passionate addresses of former speakers on topics ranging from the devastation of the war in Vietnam, to the tragedy of 9/11 to the insanity of the war in Iraq. But if I understand The Gatepost editors, it would have been more suitable for our speakers to avoid such “horrors” and  instead indulge the audience in more “optimistic and motivational tales.” Unfortunately, Richard Simmons is already engaged!

The Gatepost editors are right on one thing – this state and this nation face a “rising opiod epidemic” that threatens the very fabric of our society. What better occasion then at commencement for our graduating seniors and their families to seriously confront one of the many challenges we face as citizens of this country. Perhaps with a touch of irony, I do find Chris Herren’s story to be not only highly motivational, but also extremely optimistic. With all do deference to the editors suggestion that we should have selected the “world-renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson” as our speaker, I believe dealing with the messiness of our speck of a planet is a far more worthy introduction to post graduation life than the mysteries of the universe.