Graduate Council should assess pledge interest
(Editor's note: a copy of the following letter, addressed to Scott Peng G, president of the Graduate Student Council, was received by The Tech.)
In the March 15th undergraduate elections, students passed a referendum supporting the distribution of a pledge on social and environmental responsibility at the commencement ceremony. The ballot read:
"Do you favor the distribution of a personal pledge at the MIT Commencement Ceremony which would be handed out with the graduation diploma and signed at the discretion of the student. The pledge will read: `I pledge to investigate thoroughly and weigh the social and environmental consequences of any professional activity that I may undertake.' "
Choose one: @# Yes @# No
Of the 1503 students voting, 50.6 percent voted "yes," 45.6 percent voted "no," and 3.8 percent abstained.
The purpose of the pledge is to create an atmosphere in which questions of social and environmental responsibility are raised more often. Its objective is not to carve in stone a set of rules to be adhered to; it is to legitimate the idea that graduates should place some value on whether they act responsibly as professionals. The pledge asks that we consider the outcome of our actions, not that we declare allegiance to some normative standard it supplies.
Because the commencement ceremony celebrates the achievements of both graduates and undergraduates, the endorsement of the distribution of the pledge must come from both groups. For this reason, we ask you to take steps to assess the opinions of the graduate students on this issue. We think that the idea of a mail-in referendum distributed through the Graduate Student Council News could measure graduate student support as long as steps are taken to assure that registered graduate students may vote only once.
If the graduate student body supports the distribution of the pledge, we will ask the faculty for its endorsement at their May 17th meeting. The next step would be to discuss with President Paul E. Gray '54 and the Commencement Committee the logistics regarding the distribution of the pledge.
We thank you for your cooperation.
Paul L. Antico '91->
Andrew P. Strehle '91->
Ajay G. Advani '91->
Manuel Rodriguez '89->