I was one of the graduates over the weekend who witnessed Dr. Ransdell pull out from behind the podium a red t-shirt with the white words “HIRE ME” emblazoned on the front.
The message on this t-shirt assumes I don’t already have a job. Actually, I have a job and will be moving to New Orleans in the fall. However, many of my fellow graduates will be going home this summer without a clear plan for the future. Why should they be reminded of this on their graduation day with something that shrinks in the drier? The purpose of a graduation ceremony is to reinforce why students got their degrees — not to give them a t-shirt that only addresses their future employers.
“HIRE ME” tells me that my Alma Mater thinks of my degree as being primarily a tool for getting a job. I chose my degree in English with the understanding that I would be learning skills sought after in the job market (critical reading, improved writing skills, literary allusions for casual conversation), but I also chose my degree because I genuinely enjoy studying literature.
The t-shirt shifted the focus of the ceremony from our being lifelong learners hungry for knowledge to our being desperate and not willing to let our individual interests dictate our futures.
While I am grateful to Western for my degree, they can keep their t-shirt. I’ll let my education do the talking.
-Michael Miller, 2012 WKU graduate