As commencement appearances go, President George W. Bush's attendance at Yale University's 300th commencement was pretty standard fare.
The president thanked the professors at the Ivy League school where he earned a bachelor's degree in history. He joked about his own academic record and talked about the unexpected turns that life often takes. There was some heckling and a few protest signs held by the students, but most observers would write off the poor manners of certain students to youthful exuberance.
More troubling was the odd behavior of 170 Yale professors who boycotted the ceremony because they felt Bush was not worthy of his honorary degree. One wonders what sort of magnificent accomplishments these learned scholars have achieved to prompt them to turn their noses up at the president of the United States. Wouldn't you think the professors' intellectual curiosity would prod them into seeing what's on the mind of the world's most powerful man while he's visiting his alma mater.
This is precisely the sort of elitism that causes many Americans to dismiss certain academicians as hopelessly trapped in their ivory towers. The professors wouldn't have had to agree with or condone Bush's policies to have listened to his speech. All they had to do was extend the president the common courtesy of listening.
A first-rate college education should guide students in the areas of common sense and civility. The boycotting professors' poor judgment showed a lack of both qualities and reflected poorly on a great university.
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