NYU Reacts: Sherrilyn Ifill to speak at 2015 Commencement

Marita Vlachou, News Editor

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, will be NYU’s commencement speaker for this year, the university announced Tuesday.

Ifill, an NYU Law alumna, teaches at the University of Maryland School of Law and has also been involved in many voting rights cases during her time as LDF’s assistant counsel.

Members of the NYU community share their opinion on the selection of the commencement speaker.

“At first I had no idea who she was. She’s not one of the more well known people that NYU has gotten in the past, but it’ll definitely be something interesting due to the recent events. Whether it be in Missouri, with the Michael Brown case, or even Baltimore recently, it’ll be interesting to see what she has to say about that and also what she has to say to us,
the seniors.” 
— Nick Manzo, SPS senior

“I’m happy to see an African-American woman speaking. I think it’s nice with everything going on now to have someone from the NAACP, but I don’t think it’s going to do anything to solve anything, having her here. I just don’t think it’s going to make an impact, especially at this school. I would have probably wanted to see someone more involved in racial issues, someone who can make a difference in these issues. “ — Erica Mitchell, Steinhardt senior

“For commencement speakers, you want someone who’s wise enough to give you a lot of insight about the future and is also successful. Then again, it’s a speech, it’s supposed to inspire us to form the future, which can really be from anyone, as long as it’s from the heart. Yeah, if you’re famous it’s special, but I still think there’s also an opportunity for someone not famous to give a very heartfelt speech. My hope is that NYU chose this person for that reason, and not so much for publicity.” — Jonathan Samudio, Poly senior

“I don’t see why she was chosen as commencement speaker to be honest. I’m not really sure what I am looking for in a commencement speaker but she seems very distant from me. I’m unclear how the NAACP relates to college graduation.” — Sam Bellows, Tisch senior

“From the perspective of a young college student who has been disgusted by what has happened within the last years with race issues, I am glad to see the choice made by NYU. But as a young Pakistani-American, I would like to see representation from one of my own as well. There are more racial issues present in America than just the one being supported with this choice.” — Fatima Khalid, Poly senior

“I would’ve been excited to see someone more in the forefront of issues that I knew of, and I definitely on Facebook saw a lot of negative feedback about who it was. A lot of people said things like, “Who is this” or “I thought we’d get Hillary Clinton,” but I’m open to the idea and I’m excited to see what she has to say. I’m hoping to definitely hear an inspiring story, hopefully something inspiring leadership and equality.” — Lucy O’Shaughnessy, CAS senior

Additional reporting by Christine Wang.

A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, April 29 print edition. Email Marita Vlachou at [email protected].