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Letter to the Editor: 04.26.13

Inspiring keynote? I think not.

As a graduating senior I was sorely disappointed to hear the announcement that Senator Mitch McConnell will be the keynote speaker for this year’s commencement ceremony at Murray State. I have worked hard and learned a lot over my past four years in Murray. During that time, I have grown to love this University as not only a great place for higher education, but also as a University committed to the future of its students and a healthy environment. I had high hopes that the speaker at my graduation would live up to those standards that I feel are important to the Racer community.

I know, as a young person who is entering the world as a post-grad in 2013, climate change is the biggest threat to my generation. As a native Kentuckian, I also know that unsustainable and unsafe fossil fuel production in Kentucky is a threat to the health of all Kentuckians right now. Murray State also understands that very real threat. The proof of which we have seen manifest in the creation of the Commission on Sustainability in 2010, the strong commitment the University made to renewable energy infrastructure on campus this semester and in the willingness to work with students to implement sustainable solutions.

Senator McConnell does not share this understanding.

Senator McConnell may talk about caring for Kentuckians, he may even talk about caring for our future in the form of job creation. But the truth of the matter is, actions speak louder than words. I believe that if Senator McConnell actually cared about Kentuckians and my graduating class having a real shot at a healthy and safe future, he would be supporting the transition to a diverse economy in Kentucky. He would be supporting the transition to just, and clean energy future in Kentucky and using that transition to create thousands of new, green jobs for our region.

My generation does not want to see a Senator like Mitch McConnell destroying the Commonwealth that we love so dearly and endangering our access to clean air and water. That is why we will not be voting for him in next year’s election. We want a real leader to give our support to and we want a commencement speaker who understands our generation and cares about protecting the future that we have worked so hard to set up for ourselves through our time here at Murray.

It is “leaders” like this that makes coalitions like the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition (which Murray State student group M.E.S.S. is a member of) are so important and why we are seeing state networks like KSEC being formed in many states across the country.

Young people know that our future is at stake and most of our elected officials care more about supporting big industry than listening to their constituents. With an approval rating of only 37 percent, according to a recent poll by Public Policy Polling, it is obvious that Mitch McConnell is one of those elected officials not listening to our calls for politicians with moral fiber. Tell me again, why he has been given the honor of empowering and congratulating the Murray State class of 2013?

Letter from Caleb Johnson, senior from Bowling Green, Ky.