by Lou Venditti:
There is something incredibly special about a college graduation ceremony. For students, families and faculty alike, commencements mark the finish line that all students are working to cross.
The College at Brockport tapped John Faso ‘74 to be the commencement speaker for the undergraduate ceremony on May 12. Faso is in his first term as a congressman representing the 19th District of New York in the Hudson Valley, but he’s been active in politics for a long time.
Faso served from 1987 until 2002 as a member of the New York State Assembly. During his time as an assemblyman. In 2002, he unsuccessfully ran for New York Comptroller. Faso rose to political prominence in 2006 when he ran for governor of New York against Eliot Spitzer. Faso received endorsements from both the Republican and Conservative Parties of New York for the election. Nevertheless, Spitzer wiped the floor with Faso, winning by a 35 percent margin.
Faso’s political campaign finally came to fruition when he won New York’s 19th congressional district in 2016. However, since taking office, Faso has come under fire a handful of times.
One of the biggest backlashes the freshman congressman has faced during office was after he voted for the American Health Care Act. The new healthcare act repealed the Affordable Care Act and was quickly pushed through the house and senate with little time for constituents to object. Faso’s office was swarmed with protestors who would be affected by his vote.
Faso made his opinion on abortion and Planned Parenthood perfectly clear throughout his time in the public light, if not confusing. During remarks on the State Assembly floor in 1987, Faso described Roe v. Wade, the monumental Supreme Court case that defined abortion rights, as “a black mark on this country.” Even so, Faso has stated he would “go with the flow” on the issues, voting to keep Planned Parenthood funded when fellow Republicans voted the opposite.
Faso also votes with the status quo within his party. The only major legislation from the Trump administration that Faso has yet to vote against is last year’s tax act – which was voted against by six other Republicans from the state.
Faso has tried to toe the line during his time in office, and he’s been able to do it somewhat successfully. Faso’s repulsive ideology has been kept relatively under wraps during his time in office due to the current political climate in the Trump administration. However, Faso is a completely inappropriate choice for a commencement speaker on the grounds of his views.
Faso is a weak-willed politician in the age of Donald Trump. He has had numerous opportunities to stand up to Trump and the administration in order to better represent his people, but has failed to do so. How can the College at Brockport have Faso come and talk about future success at commencement when Faso is failing to stand up to injustice on a daily basis?
It seems as though there is a trend along universities across the country where questionable speakers are brought to campuses. Regardless of how the campus reacts to Faso, he will still speak at commencement.