UA should not pursue pledge, despite referendum
The matter of the graduation pledge has not been settled by the passage of the referendum. It is an issue that cannot and should not be decided by the general undergraduate student body.
I believe that each individual must consider the consequences of his or her actions. This is not limited to scientists and the uses of technology; it includes the everyday consideration we extend to our fellow human beings. I do not disagree with the text of the pledge. I, and many others who voted against the referendum, feel that distribution of the pledge is inappropriate for the commencement ceremony.
I find it interesting how proponents of the pledge have answered criticisms that the wording is vague and that its voluntary nature makes it useless. Theodore Corbin's response ["Pledge would legitimize social awareness," March 17] is typical: "the objective of the pledge. . . is to legitimize the idea that scientists should place some value on whether they act responsibly as citizens or human beings, not just as scientists or engineers." His main concern is that the pledge be distributed, because the distribution itself makes a statement about the validity of social responsibility. It's a good statement, but I question the use of the commencement ceremony to make such statements.
The referendum passed with barely half the voters supporting it, yet Undergraduate Association President-elect Paul Antico '91 still plans to go ahead and seek the permission of the administration on the basis that the students approve. But this is not an issue for all undergraduates to decide. If the UA is concerned that MIT does not place enough emphasis on social responsibility, let it push for curriculum change. But whether or not the commencement ceremony should be used to make a statement about social awareness should be decided only by the students who will be graduating.
Antico is a sophomore; Corbin, a junior. Ajay Advani, who proposed the referendum, is a sophomore. They do not have the right to use someone else's commencement to make their statements. The issue has not been decided. It is our graduation, and we must have the final say.
Michael R. Gobler '89->