The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 33.0°F | Overcast

Commencement security to be tight

By Irene C. Kuo

The security modifications occasioned by the presence of Colombian President Virgilio Barco '43 at this year's commencement will not be "extremely noticeable," according to Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin.

Since it remains unclear whether Barco, the commencement speaker, will arrive as a private citizen or as a visiting head of state on an official state visit, not all security measures have been worked out, Glavin said. She anticipated the presence of a bigger entourage and the US Secret Service should Barco come as a head of state.

"The security modifications will definitely be different in Barco's case than if the speaker were the president of a corporation," she said.

Glavin refused to discuss details, but did mention less access to the stage and tighter restrictions on standing room. The layout and length of the ceremony should be unaffected.

"We don't want the changes to taint the overall atmosphere of the day," she stressed.

The students and family members who have expressed concern about security have little to worry about, according to Mary L. Morrissey, executive officer for commencement. "We don't anticipate problems," she concurred.

Barco, elected to the Colombian presidency as the candidate of the Liberal Party in May 1986, has gained much attention for declaring war on drug traffickers in Colombia. Moreover, while many Colombian politicians have urged the government to negotiate with drug kingpins, Barco has repeatedly refused to do so.

In October, the MIT Corporation adopted a resolution saluting Barco "for his courageous leadership of Colombia during a time of formidable challenge."

At the February drug summit in Cartagena, Colombia, Barco declined an offer by the US Navy to block drug shipments off the Colombian coastline.

Barco has held a number of important political posts in Colombia. He served as ambassador to the United States from 1977 to 1980, and ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1961 to 1962. He was mayor of Bogota, Colombia's capital and largest city, from 1966 to 1969

A member of the MIT Corporation from 1970 to 1980, Barco served on several Institute visiting committees in the Departments of Economics, Political Science, and Civil Engineering and in the Center for International Studies.