Institute graduates 1700By Ben Stanger
President Paul E. Gray '54 declared MIT must "endeavor to be neutral as an institution" on the issues of Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) funding and divestment of stocks in companies doing business in South Africa in his charge to the Class of 1985 at commencement June 3.
Over 1700 students received degrees in the presence of over 7000 guests, making MIT's 119th Commencement Exercises the most well attended ever, according to the MIT News Office.
Commencement speaker Lee A. Iacocca, Chrysler Corp. chairman, warned that the absence of a US industrial policy is turning this country into a colony of Japan. He also criticized the Reagan administration for its record deficits.
Texts of the speeches given by President Paul E. Gray '54 and Chrysler Corp. Chairman Lee A. Iacocca, Pages 13 and 14.
Gray cited the SDI and apartheid issues as two cases in which "efforts are made to nudge the university out of the middle," and cause it to "achieve goals which are only remotely related to the academic purpose or to the vital internal interests of the university."
He decried SDI funding as an "effort to short-circuit the debate" and use MIT and other schools as "political instruments in an attempt to obtain implicit institutional endorsement. This university will not be so used."
Gray said that Institute policy regarding divestment is to urge companies in which it invests to "improve the status and condition of their South African employees." Gray said earlier in his speech that although apartheid is an "evil, unsupportable, and vicious system," the best path for the university to follow is unclear.
Gray emphasized that an institution should voice its position only about issues directly connected to its activities. He said when a university steps beyond this boundary, it risks "political treatment of its own interests and disenfranchises those within the institution whose views are different."
Iacocca encouraged the Class of 1985 to "get mad" about the national debt and the trade deficit in order to change American economic policy.
"Satisfied people change nothing," he said. "Only angry people change things."
Iacocca said the $1.7 trillion debt is "invisible" to the American family, which does not know where it stands in relation to this debt.
"I understand you have something here at MIT called hacking. Well somebody is pulling a hack on your future. The piling up of debt to create the illusion of prosperity is a cruel hoax," Iacocca said.
He encouraged the Class of 1985 to face the debt and not pass it on to future generations as the past generation had.
Iacocca called the trade imbalance the "bastard child" of the deficits and blamed it for the high trading value of the dollar. He said that the high dollar foils the efforts of Chrysler and other corporations to increase productivity.
He said that the United States cannot stick to the ideal of free trade when all other countries use trade policies that help their own companies compete. The Japanese have fought to protect their markets, and that is what we must do too, he said.
Iacocca compared America today to the colony it was two hundred years ago. He said that the United States trades raw materials to Japan in return for manufactured goods, "the classic definition of a colony."
Iacocca also discussed the uselessness of high tech without an industrial backbone and the slow deindustrialization of America.
The invocation to the graduates was delivered by Rabbi Daniel Shevitz. He told the graduates not to be afraid to say "I don't know ... Humility is the true parent of wisdom," he added. "Efficiency must give way to justice, rectitude and compassion if our society is to prosper."
Shevitz also told the graduates to make time for their families and "be home in time for dinner."
Gray also called attention to the families of the graduates and asked the graduates to stand and applaud their families.
Inge Gedo '85, permanent president of the Class of 1985 presented a class gift of $9127 to be used to rebuild the park on the corner of Danforth Street and Amherst Alley.
Demonstrations concerning divestment, SDI research, and MIT's development of the Simplex Wire & Cable Co. site took place at the ceremony. Notable parts of these demonstrations were anti-apartheid protestors who chanted, "Divest Now," throughout the ceremony and an airplane towing the sign "MIT OUT OF CAMBRIDGEPORT," rented anually by the Simplex Steering Committee since 1975.