The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 25.0°F | Overcast

Commencement will not include personal pledge

By Gaurav Rewari

Plans for a commencement pledge will be postponed until graduate student opinion can been evaluated, according to Manuel Rodgriguez '89, one of the chief supporters of the pledge.

A March 15 referendum on the "Graduation Pledge" asked undergraduates whether they would be in favor of a personal pledge for social and environmental responsibility. The pledge was to remind students of their obligation "to investigate . . . and weigh the . . . consequences of any professional activity that [they] may undertake." It was intended to be distributed with diplomas at Commencement.

The referendum was approved by a slender margin of 50.6 percent of the voting student body; 45.6 percent of the students rejected it, while 3.8 percent expressed no opinion.

"The Graduate Student Council was not able to inform and gather student opinion in time," Rodriguez explained. "[But] we are going to do it the right way next year.'' The "right way" may include another referendum next year, he said.

An earlier plan to distribute the pledges with registration material this May could not be pursued, according to Rodgriguez. This plan would have ensured that a large percentage of the graduate student body would have a chance to read and express their opinions about the pledge, he explained.

The main point of the pledge is not to have students sign a piece of paper, but to foster healthy discussions and to start a dialogue that will continue through the year, according to Rodriguez. Distributing the pledge at Commencement would add to its importance, he noted.

Litter cited as problem

[el5]

"The problem does not lie in the distribution of the pledge but in bringing it into Killian Court," said Mary L. Morrissey, executive officer for Commencement. The Commencement Committee had no objection to distributing the pledges in the Johnson Athletic Center and providing a basket for them on the stage in Killian Court, she added.

Traditionally only two pieces of literature have been permitted at Commencement. One is the commencement booklet itself and the other is a special issue of The Tech. This year, however, the committee is prohibiting distribution of The Tech in Killian Court. Morrissey said that a lot of parents and ushers complained about the mess that the papers created at last year's Commencement.

"Families come here for this event. The receiving of diplomas is a reward for a lot of work done by the students," Morrissey said. "This is a celebration, and we want to keep it that way."