A group of Princeton students are "disappointed" in their university's selection of Marshawn Lynch as their Class Day speaker, citing the fact that they were "not included" in the selection process.
In an opinion editorial in their student newspaper, several undergrads expressed their discomfort with the university's selection. The students argued that while previous speakers such as Ellie Kemper and Senator Cory Booker had ties to Princeton, Lynch did not.
"The thought process behind the selection of [Kemper and Booker] is apparent," they wrote in The Daily Princetonian. "In the selection of Marshawn Lynch, however, it is not evident what the set of criteria for nomination are."
The open letter went on to criticize what they characterize as a lack of transparency with Princeton's decision-making process while finding fault with some of Lynch's past actions.
"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," the students wrote. "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."
The letter also questioned the university's press release on the matter and took particular issue with the fact that Princeton said that Lynch has "unapologetically embodied and advocated for our own identities and values.' The students called that characterization "paradoxical and thus questionable" because they were not consulted on the selection.
Lynch came out of retirement to join the Seattle Seahawks late last season after their top two running backs went down with injuries. The five-time Pro Bowler won a Super Bowl with Seattle in 2014 and is one of the franchise's most storied players because of his dominant running style and colorful personality.
Lynch's contributions to community endeavors, children's hospitals and other philanthropic causes are well documented. As is his advice to future generations. Most recently, Lynch delivered a monologue after the Seahawks' NFC Divisional Round loss to the Packers in January to remind younger NFL players to "start taking care y'all mentally, y'all bodies and y'all chicken."