University of Rhode Island President David Dooley, in a decison that sets an example of cowardice that his students will remember all of their lives, has recently decided to move the URI 2013 commencement ceremony from its traditional outdoor venue on the URI quad, to an indoor gymnasium. The reason given is to promote safety and security. To protect the institution from any potential attack from terrorists that may be motivated to kill Americans that like to celebrate life achievements outside.
Although Boston bomber Tsarnaev's widow was living in a nearby town with her parents, the Ocean State can hardly be called a hotbed of terrorist activity. Needless to say the students are very dissappointed and have begun protests and petitions to reverse the decision. But URI partents like me, are also affected. Because of the newly created space limitation, guests will be limited to only two invitations per student. Therefore I will need to tell the large family contingent that was planning on sharing and celebrating my daughter's achievement to stay home. Sorry Grandma. Typical of college graduations, out of towners have booked non refundable hotel rooms and made restaurant reservations and party plans a year in advance for this weekend. Now we have to tell them they cannot attend the main event.
Now of course we can all still go and spend the weekend up there, and 6-8 people can amuse themselves while two of us sit in a stifling hot, smelly gymnasium for a few hours on what will likely be a beautiful and sunny spring day in New England. But the loss of seeing one's grandaughter in teh main ceremony is very dissappointing for someone like a Grandma who never had that opportunity. And it will only happen once. It is also dissappointing for the recipient not to have her family there to see her getteh recognition for the diploma with honors she has worked so hard for.
But the more important issue is this is an example of caving in to fear. An unreasonbable fear at that. Real leaders in these situations encourage people to get on with it, and live their lives normally. Otherwise the terrorists win. This is exactly the type of behavior people like Tsarnaev were hoping we would engage in. He is probably laughing in his anonymously provided new grave site. Did you assist him in finding that grave site President Dooley? Recall what advice people like Giuliani and Bloomberg gave after 9/11 in New York, in a traditionally real terrorist target location.
President Dooley is new to New England. He comes from Montana where he maintains a home (he is reimubursed by URI for multiple visits home per year by the way). Maybe he went there after the Boston Marathon. In Montana, I would imagine, these types of threats are probably not frequent. But wait a mnute, there is no threat! This is a precautionairy measure only. No threats have been recieved by the University which is located in a sleepy little isolated town. So perhaps he is not accustomed to the way Quahogs deal with such adversity. Quahogs and Rhodies don't hide in their homes. They get on with it. So Mr Dooley, I ask that you please take off your skirt and teach these young people how to react to modern issues with conviction and resolve,and steadfastness. Not fear. Because they probably will be encountering real situations that require a firm resolve as they move ahead in their lives. And the example you are setting for them is sadly not what any parent wants to pay for when they send a kid off to college. Its not too late to change this ridiculous decison. Remeber this quote? 'The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself'.