The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 68.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Pledge will be unofficial again

By Prabhat Mehta

The Undergraduate Association and Graduate Student Council have tentatively agreed to provide an optional pledge at Commencement for graduating students "to examine the consequences of their work," according to UA President Manish Bapna '91.

The pledge has students commit themselves to "investigate thoroughly and weigh the social and environmental consequences of my professional activity." Its goal is to get students to "think about what we will be doing," Bapna said.

"You could go here for four years without understanding the consequences of a job you take later," he added.

"Having [the pledge] would legitimize social awareness and create an atmosphere which encourages a discussion of ethics," said Ajay G. Advani '91, one of the original supporters of the pledge.

The pledge will be offered to students as they gather at the Johnson Athletic Center. It will not be part of the official commencement materials, which currently only consists of the commencement booklet.

Students will keep the pledge. "We feel it would be much more effective for students to keep it for their own sake," Bapna said.

Eventually, Bapna hopes that if students continue to express interest in the pledge, it will become part of the official materials. "By this time next year, we will know whether students want it as a part of the commencement process," he said.

The decision to provide the pledge was reached after "a couple of students asked me what was going on about it," Bapna said. Some of those students, Bapna noted, lobbied for the pledge last year, after a UA referendum indicated that a slight majority of undergraduates supported the idea of a pledge.

However, despite the efforts of Advani and former UA President Manuel Rodriguez '89, who together obtained the 500 signatures to put it on last spring's ballot, the pledge was not included as an official commencement item. According to Advani and Bapna, undergraduates were unable to have the pledge approved by graduate students in time.

Instead, as was the case the year before, it was distributed informally.

The pledge was not added this year to the formal commencement materials because the students who lobbied for the pledge the year before "did not have the time to do it" this year, Bapna said.

Advani, however, felt "it was [due to] a number of things."

Though the UA will deal with the pledge issue next year, both Bapna and Advani stressed that they would not pursue it unless a majority of students were in favor of it.

"It is not something that should be imposed on people," Advani said.