MARQUETTE — Students and faculty are appalled after NMU President Fritz Erickson has extended an invitation to Governor Rick Snyder to be commencement speaker at the spring ceremony.

Many members of NMU’s staff, faculty and student body have voiced their opinions about President Erickson’s decision to invite Governor Rick Snyder to be the spring of two–thousand eighteen commencement speaker. Brent Graves, Professor of Biology and the President of the NMU American Association of University Professors voiced his opinion through an article on the NMU–AAUP website.

“I sent an email to the NMU–AAUP membership expressing my feelings about inviting Governor Snyder to NMU to be a commencement speaker. Before I sent the email out I talked to President Erickson about it, and he listened, and he was very thoughtful but commencement should be for and about the students and I don’t think Snyder was invited for the students because of Snyder’s role in the Flint Water situation. I think that a lot of people within NMU; students, faculty and staff don’t see him as a kind of a role model or as person that we would want here celebrating commencement,” said Graves.

Many would say that this invitation has to do with politics as many appointees at NMU’s Board of Trustees were appointed by Governor Snyder. In response, students and faculty are working to create a series of education forums to educate on topics of democracy, social justice and more of NMU’s core values.

“We are looking at this as a teachable moment if anything else. I know, we know, that we can’t prevent him from coming to campus, but we want to raise awareness about why we are opposed and why NMU should not be supporting this particular individual as commencement speaker. Commencement is a solemn event and ceremony and we don’t believe that Governor Snyder represents or is indicative of NMU’s core values and these core values promote social justice, they promote democracy and they promote environmental preservation. It’s clear from his record that Governor Snyder stands for everything but those core values,” added Marcus Robyns, Student Response Coordinator.

The next semester will host a series of forums and activities centered around educating on the core values. If members of the university and community feel strongly on the issue they are encouraged to send letters to the President’s office or attend the open forums on the topic.