Graduation speeches are important. Chris Pan, frustrated OSU students know that


  • Commencement speeches are difficult, but speakers are responsible for their words.
  • Smartphones pose a threat to education, but not the only one.
  • It’s important to talk about mental health and take care of our own mental health.

Opening words are important

Re “Pan wants to set the record straight,” May 14: As a teacher of public speaking at the university level, I am sympathetic to the Dispatch article about Chris Pan, Ohio State University alumnus and aspiring speaker.

On the one hand, commencement speeches are strangely harsh, something recently told with characteristic insight by the eminent historian Drew Gilpin Faust. And let’s be honest: being booed by 70,000 people is not something anyone would call life-affirming.

On the other hand, there was something irritable, wearyingly serious in Pan’s musings. Speakers are responsible for their words. Finally, if work-shopping ideas with students, parents, and social media communities prior to the presentation feeds into the conventions of speech preparation, Pan is the author, advocate, and representative (in the Emersonian sense) of what he says.

Harrison Butker’s ugly speech is ugly. Chief’s kicker is just part of a bigger problem.

OSU Speaker: Chris Pan wants to set the record straight about his Ohio State commencement speech

We live in an age when too many rhetors (an old word that at best denotes those invested in the weight and value of giving the richest expression of ideas to civil, moral, and just purposes) are falling over themselves to to give their own voice. – serving, self-promoting, self-gratifying bubbles of echoing porridge.

The graduates who were frustrated with the speech and the speaker may have learned their lessons well. Words are important. We deserve and should expect better.

Jeff Kurtz, Newark

We’ll see you, Mike DeWine

As a substitute teacher who works in many districts, I can say with confidence that smartphones are definitely a huge threat to education.

What I find ironic is that this is the same governor who signed a budget item (with no spending cap) that takes money from public schools to help the wealthy pay tuition so their children can attend private and religious schools.

You’re not fooling anyone, DeWine.

Susan D’Ooge Miller, Columbus

Sometimes it’s okay not to be okay

It’s important to talk about mental health. There’s a big stigma around it, like it’s something to be ashamed of, but it’s just like any other disease.

We wouldn’t make fun of someone with a broken leg, so why do we make fun of someone with depression, anxiety or ADHD?

It’s not just about talking about it, though.

We also need to learn how to take care of our own mental health. Just as we exercise to keep our bodies healthy, we should also do things to keep our minds healthy. That means taking breaks when we need them, talking to someone we trust when we’re feeling down, and being kind to ourselves and others.

Let’s work together to break the stigma and make sure everyone knows it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

By promoting mental health awareness, we can help break down the barriers that keep people from getting the support they need. It is important that schools, communities, social media and the media talk openly about mental health and provide resources to those who are struggling.

Together, people can create a more compassionate and supportive environment for everyone, regardless of their mental health status.

Emily Frey, Hilliard