Princeton students unhappy with Marshawn Lynch as their class speaker

Several Princeton students wrote an op-ed in the student newspaper criticizing the decision to make Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch the senior "Class Day" speaker in June. 

Princeton announced Lynch as the speaker last week while promoting his "sustained professional excellence," prompting students to call out the university's "Class Day" co-chairs for that selection. Lynch is not expected to speak at the commencement ceremony but rather before graduation. "Class Day" is organized by the school's senior class and focuses on honorary class members. 

"As seniors, we had been looking forward to the speaker announcement for months," the letter starts. "Many of us were disappointed when we saw that this year’s speaker was to be Marshawn Lynch, mainly because we did not feel included in the process by which this speaker was nominated and finally selected."

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Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch (24) during the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field. San Francisco defeated Seattle 26-21. (Photo: Steven Bisig, USA TODAY Sports)

Although the students wrote that their frustration was more so with the lack of say in the selection process, they also pointed out Lynch's history with the media. 

The students wrote: "Among articles that praised his NFL career and philanthropic contributions, we came across articles discussing Lynch’s reticence with the media and his terse responses at press conferences. In 2013 and 2014, for example, Lynch was fined $50,000 and $100,000 for refusing to speak to the media. During the 2015 Superbowl Media Day, Lynch famously responded to multiple questions with variants of 'I’m just here so I won’t get fined.' With no other frame of reference, such reports caused confusion over the set of criteria that led to his nomination."

Lynch is a five-time Pro Bowler and won a Super Bowl with the Seahawks in 2014. In 2019, he played one regular-season game and two in the playoffs with Seattle. He's also played for the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders in his 12-year career that also included two brief retirements. Lynch is an alum of California-Berkeley, where he was the Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year in 2006. 

He is set to be a free agent March 18.

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