Convocation, Safe Space University
Welcome to Safe Space University! In keeping with an SSU tradition, I want you to do me a favor. First look to your left, and now look to your right. One of your classmates won’t be with you on Graduation Day. Because we’ll run him out in the dogged pursuit of truth, wherever it leads? Hardly! Clearly you weren’t at graduation last spring when the valedictorian – that is, the entire Class of 2015 – spoke of the joy of shared victory. I just mean it might take some of you six or more years to graduate. But that’s okay – we understand that each cookie bakes differently in the oven, and we’re fine with that here at SSU. There’s a saying around the Bursar’s Office – we’re glad you stayed if tuition is paid!
Seriously, though, I do want you to look to your left and to your right. At SSU we take pride in the diversity of our incoming undergraduates, and your class is no exception. Just know this: if you could read their minds, their thoughts would be substantially identical to your own. Why is this? Because we have the best self-selection office — admissions is oppressively Latinate — in the land, and you are the fruits of their labor. So congratulations, you’ve already survived the biggest challenge you’ll face at SSU: getting in. Just relax. As long as you play ball, you won’t be challenged going forward. Ever heard the adage smooth seas make poor sailors? Don’t worry, neither have we!
Now look behind you, at the majestic GAB Department lining Derrida Green. Critics ridicule the name for its association with idle chatter. Pay them no mind. It is a signature offering here at SSU – the Guns And Butter Department, or what benighted universities still call the Economics Department. Your parents and grandparents thought of economics as the study of scarcity, of how to contend with man’s unlimited desires but limited resources. They clung to aphorisms like “live within your means” and “no free lunch”. But we know better at SSU. There’s always Other People’s Money, whether in this generation or the next. Scholarship coming out of our Self-Actualization Department (née Philosophy) confirms that trade-offs, an affront to your wants, should be avoided at all costs. I’m sure the wry among you noticed, but in case you missed, it’s the SAD faculty that teaches us how to be happy!
Thinking of studying meteorology? Fantastic, we could use another soldier, ahem, scholar. Spoiler alert: it’s the easiest course load on campus. Why is that? Because all classes lead to the same conclusion — it’s getting warmer! Graduate-level study requires more nuanced thinking, such as the ability to shift nomenclature on the fly – Climate Change, not Global Warming — when facts doesn’t support your conclusions. But that’s the long and the short of it. This leaves plenty of time for volleyball on the Quad, which is a good thing because – wait for it – it’s getting warmer!
I want to dispel a nasty rumor that’s been making the rounds. We are not disbanding the ROTC Program. Far from it. America needs soldiers in the defining battle of our time, against a shifty and elusive foe we’ve already discussed: Climate Change. It’s here that men and women will learn to throw grenades of uncorrelated data at carbon dioxide deniers, fix bayonets over funding cuts and fight hand-to-invisible-hand with those who propose market-based solutions. It is our alumni and alumnae who will lead as officers in the 82nd Airborne Pollutants Division, the 5th Column Infantry Division and the 10th Mountain Bike Division into battle against low pressure systems. In the fog of war that inevitably arises in a war on fog, we’ll need leaders with clear heads making decisions, and SSU will provide those leaders.
But that’s a heavy load to place on your slender shoulders on this, your first day of college! Rest assured it’s not all hard work here at SSU. Here we have Halloween parties, and not traumatizing ones filled with winsome students dressed as Fabio, naughty nurses and the like. Attendees know to attire themselves only in their own cultural dress. And don’t miss open-mic night at The Company Line, our comedy club in the Student Pavilion. We at SSU genuinely love an unscripted laugh. We’ll just need your full name, address, SSN, political and religious affiliation in advance. And of course your act. If that’s not your speed, we offer yoga for those seeking wellness in body and … What’s that? Sorry, scratch that, I’m told we no longer offer yoga. Nobody said progress would be fun!
Let me close with some practical advice to help you make the most of your time here. Question everything during your time at SSU. Faith, family, tradition, authority, some of your elected leaders, everything. Not SSU leadership, of course, but that goes without saying. If ever you find yourself questioning SSU faculty, just remember our exercise earlier today at Orientation (FYI, we’re working on renaming that), in the Lazy River that snakes through our Aquatic Center. Don’t fight the current but let it carry you, one and all, to the same place and at the same pace.
So go forth and thrive in your years at SSU, where you are free to be the you that we want you to be!