Archie Mitchell is a business administration senior and KCPR General Manager. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
A ripple of awkwardness took over Alex G. Spanos Stadium as Paul Wesselmann stepped up to the mic.
“Look everyone, it’s your best buddy from WOW” President Jeffery Armstrong said.
Some students faintly recognized him, parents and supporters were perplexed.
Here are some of the most painful takeaways from what just might go down as the worst commencement speech in Cal Poly’s history.
Beginning your speech complaining about the time constraints is an interesting decision for an orator. When Kennedy said “Ask not what your country can do for you” and Martin Luther King said “I have a dream,” the last thing both of them were thinking was how long was left on the clock. What matters in a speech is what you say, not how long you say it for. And while that may seem obvious to some, Mr. Wesselmann managed to use chunks of his time making four separate references to how long he had remaining.
Did anybody remember the six movements? Look, Paul, I didn’t care for them as a naïve 18 year old, and so I certainly didn’t today. As college graduates, we’re entering a competitive job market, not an amateur interpretive dance contest. As Mr. Wesselmann limply ran through his six step toolkit of how to look like an idiot, he was joined only by a few. The vast majority of graduates talked amongst themselves, their parents looked around in bewilderment.
He spoke against the backdrop of an elegant and moving speech from student president Jasmin Fashami and the amusing, yet probably recycled, comedic material brought by Keith Humphrey. Both served as benchmarks, of which the condensed ripples presentation fell extremely short.
It was a stadium of thousands, including an inspirational graduating ex-convict, a student juggling his degree and his daughter, and my own aged grandfather who travelled from the United Kingdom by boat and train for 10 days to be here. Surely, one of these people had something better to say.
By far the most profound quote from Cal Pauly’s speech was “Time goes fast.” It was, as he said, what he wanted us to remember most about his speech. Unfortunately, due to the cliched nature of the quote, it will probably blend in with a long weekend of store-bought congratulatory cards, drunken speeches, and nostalgic Instagram posts. The quote I think I’m most likely to remember was “This is the last time my path is meant to cross yours.” And I can only hope he was right.
A good speech can be measured by a few metrics: What did you learn? How much fun did you have? How moved were you? Unfortunately, Paul Wesselmann struck out, and the $95 each student was charged that helped bring him here was well wasted.
The majority of Mr. Wesselmann’s speech focused around how excited he was to be here. Well, I’d be bloody excited too if I was getting $500 a minute for it. Next year let’s sack off the keynote address, split the $10,000 amongst ourselves, and save 10 minutes of exposure to mind numbing levels of Paul Wesselmann’s nonesense.