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The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

The student news site of Dickinson College.

The Dickinsonian

Smerconish out as Commencement Speaker

Michael Smerconish, political commentator and radio host, has been removed as the Commencement speaker for the Class of 2024, according to a statement from the President’s Office.

In his statement, President John E. Jones III ’77 said Smerconish “faced overwhelming opposition from our faculty and students, particularly after recent comments he made. As a result, with the support of our Board of Trustees, I have decided to rescind the honorary degree and invitation to speak at Commencement.”

The announcement comes following a May 1 livestream of “Headlines from the Newsletter,” where Smerconish commented on an opinion piece published in The Dickinsonian. The piece claimed the Class of 2024 deserves better than him due to previous statements about Arab Americans and Muslims in his 2004 book “Flying Blind” and in years after that.

On the livestream, Smerconish said that he needs to reread “Flying Blind,” but said, “Chances are, that given the acquired wisdom of the last 20 years and all the knowledge that I have gleaned … my hunch is I will probably stand behind every single word in the book.”

Community demands for Smerconish to be removed as speaker began before this livestream. His removal was a key demand of the Dickinson College Coalition for Mutual Liberation, a group that held a week-long encampment on Britton Plaza in solidarity with other colleges that have encampments to show support for Palestine in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. A Google Forms petition to remove Smerconish, which was distributed by the Coalition, received 828 signatures from students, faculty, staff, alums and parents.

This story is developing. Follow this article for more updates.

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About the Contributor
Walker Kmetz
Walker Kmetz, Life & Style Editor

Walker is a sophomore and the Life & Style Editor for the 2022-23 year. He is from Shavertown, Pa. and is majoring in political science. His favorite articles he’s written are on when John E. Jones became Dickinson’s President, and on the opening of the Trout Gallery exhibit Queering the Muse. Outside of The Dickinsonian, he works as an editorial assistant with Professor Cotten Seiler for the journal Transfers, and is a member of WDCV, Random Acts of Kindness, and Dickinson Votes. In his free time, he enjoys photography, listening to new music, and playing video games.

Comments (8)

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  • B

    BobFVMay 6, 2024 at 2:53 pm

    Congrats – by cancelling Smerconish , Dickenson is removing a scholarly, independent voice from their commencement. Seems to me that more independent voices are whet independent academic institutions need right now.

  • D

    Disappointed AlumMay 6, 2024 at 2:13 pm

    Its hard to express how disappointed I am in Dickinson for this. I grew so much as a person during my time as a Dickinson student and a crucial part of that growth was being exposed to ideas that countered my own. Even the most offensive ideas have a place at college campuses; as the trite old saying goes, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” If we can’t handle hearing opinions we find distasteful, how could we ever hope to argue against them or combat them in the real world?

    I’m especially disappointed in the faculty and staff that endorsed this movement to disinvite Michael. They should all be intimately aware of the value of free expression and the fact that so many were eager to silence a voice they didn’t agree with is shameful. Without the free expression and exchange of ideas, higher education wouldn’t be able to exist as it does today. How do you expect students to learn how to have hard conversations or deal with resistance if you’re going out of your way to sanitize the Dickinson campus experience? How do you expect to foster the next generation of scholars, thinkers, and leaders if we shield students from anything that has any hint of being distasteful?

    I’ve seen so many disinvitation stories from other schools, but I never thought that Dickinson would join their ranks. I don’t see how I could continue supporting this institution if this is how it handles itself.

  • J

    JamesMay 6, 2024 at 12:56 pm

    Pulling a speaker that is known for being moderate, thoughtful, insightful and measured just shows how insane people have become. Interesting there is no reference to the commentary or the context of the objectionable content; also he’s on the air six days a week, and the only objection is to an out of context selection of quotes from 20 years ago? Universities should know better. What a joke.

  • J

    J. EleserMay 6, 2024 at 10:46 am

    Zero comments? I find that hard to believe. This is a case of the blind leading the gutless. Shame!

  • J

    Jim akersMay 5, 2024 at 9:56 pm

    I’d like to read the objectionable quotes to gain a fuller understanding of the campus community’s position.

  • E

    Erin BMay 4, 2024 at 11:25 pm

    Thank you for realizing that the students deserve an uplifting and positive graduation speaker.

    • T

      Tom DefouwMay 6, 2024 at 1:29 pm

      If you actually listened to Mr. Smerconish and his thoughts about “mingling” in society, you would think differently about an “uplifting and positive graduation speaker”. Comments made 20 or more years ago should be taken in the context of what was happening at that time in history. Dickinson has done a disservice to these young adults by not allowing a fair-minded individual speak truth to power. Life is not always a bowl of cherries. Coddling them does no one any favors!

    • C

      ChrisMay 8, 2024 at 3:27 pm

      As media personalities go, Smerconish is as uplifting and positive as I have seen. I will add that he seems thoughtful and willing to listen to all sides of an argument, which makes this situation so ironic. I doubt any of the misguided students and faculty that called for his cancellation actually read the entirety “Flying Blind” or considered his body of work as an author and broadcaster. Shame