Barbara Snyder gives familiar commencement speech; inquiries made

John Rambo

In the middle of May, Barbara Snyder gave her annual commencement address to a large crowd of graduating students and their loved ones. Although the speech moved many in the crowd to tears, others reported that they found it suspiciously reminiscent of last year’s address, and many of the ones previous.

“I went to commencement last year because I have older friends, and I swear she gave the exact same speech this time,” said recent graduate Samantha Williams. “I liked it last year, but this has me wondering how many times she has reused the speech.”

“I think I caught a statistic about student research from 2009,” Williams added.

Other sources have verified that this year’s speech had strong similarities to the one Snyder gave last May.

“Both speeches highlighted the achievements of students during their time at CWRU and focused on their high potential for future success,” said English professor Jerry Fiedler, who has handed out diplomas at commencement for ten years. “Each had a persistently optimistic tone, and many buzzwords from 2013 reappeared this year.”

These words included “goals,” “achievement” and “optimism.” Common phrases included “investment in future success,” “whole world ahead of you” and “always remember the lessons taught at CWRU.” References to crippling student debt and requests for alumni donations were noticeably absent.

Some attendees noticed parallels between the commencement address and the welcome speech the class of 2014 received during their freshman year.

“When Babs started talking about all the things we accomplished here, I kind of got déjà vu,” said Charlie Zimon. “I think she might have even slipped up for a second and said that we would enjoy our next four years at CWRU. Then again, I kind of zoned out, so I could be wrong.”

One of the Bon Appétit caterers at the event, who chose to comment anonymously, had a simple explanation for the similarities.

“She only has one speech,” said the caterer. “It’s pretty smart, really. Most people don’t pay much attention at these events, anyway. All she has to do is change the nouns, and she’s ready to use the speech again.”

“From the audience, you can’t see her cue cards. If you’re standing behind the stage, though, the fat man with a surfboard logo is clear as day.”

The president’s office did not respond to requests for comment on this issue.

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