The announcement was met with mixed reaction.
“Regardless of religious affiliations, I think it’s excellent that they have chosen someone that is truly inspirational,” said Holly Mattson.
“People young and old embarking on their future couldn’t receive wiser counsel,” said Cynthia Paramore.
However, some students want to make it clear they are not OK with the college’s decision. Stefanie McKenzi, a senior at DSC graduating this year with a degree in English, said she is outraged by the decision.
“I didn’t go to BYU for a reason,” McKenzi said. “We’re proving that you cannot be educated in the state of Utah without having this religion pushed upon you. We’re not allowing people to have differences or diversity. We’re forced to accept this religion in some way. It hits a very sore spot with me.”
In their statement released to the media, DSC announced: “Given that Dixie State College was originally founded by the LDS Church a century ago, it seems appropriate to acknowledge our roots as we prepare to enter our next 100 years.”
Monson will be given an honorary doctorate degree in Humanities as part of the commencement. DSC currently does not offer doctorate degrees to their students. Monson has also received honorary doctorate degrees from BYU, Salt Lake Community College, Southern Utah University and the University of Utah.
“I would feel differently if he had some form of accomplishments,” McKenzi said. “The way that they announced it … he’s being heightened just because of his position in the church.”
Katrina James, a St. George News reader, posted her thoughts on the St. George News Facebook page.
“He is a successful businessman and leader and a very inspirational speaker and he has lived a long time; he knows what he’s talking about,” James posted.
But McKenzi argued that it is just another way of pushing religion onto everyone in the state.
“I’m outraged,” she said. “I worked really hard for four years to get this degree and now I can’t celebrate my own accomplishments without supporting someone I don’t agree with. The fact is that I go to a public institution and … I should be able to celebrate every part of my graduation.”
McKenzi said she would like to boycott the Commencement ceremonies, but she could not do that to her family who supported her for four years. She also said that although she is a Democrat, she would be OK with former President George W. Bush speaking at Commencement.
“This is a public institution, religion has no place there,” she said.
Chris Busch told St. George News that she was unhappy when the “church president was the speaker at SUU a few years ago.”
“The families of the graduates were strictly limited on the number of tickets they could get to the graduation because so many people in the community wanted to see him,” Busch said. “If that is the case, there should be a second meeting where people can listen to him, and just have the families of the graduates at the graduation ceremony. Not everyone here is interested in what the LDS church has to say.”
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