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Over 2,000 to Graduate in Killian Today

NASA’s Goldin to Speak at Commencement

By Maria Wang


There are 2,122 of them. They’ve done thousands of problem sets, defended hundreds of theses, and pulled many an all-nighter.

Today, they will receive 1,064 bachelor’s degrees and 1,305 advanced degrees before an expected audience of 8,000.

Commencement exercises will feature guest speaker Daniel S. Goldin, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Goldin is credited with reviving NASA during the post-Cold War era and was a key figure in developing the international space station.

Under Goldin’s administration, the money and time needed to construct spacecraft have decreased dramatically while the number of missions launched per year has quadrupled.

Goldin’s speech will be followed by a salute to MIT from outgoing Graduate Student Council President Soulaymane Kachani and a speech by Class of 2001 President Erick N. Tseng. Tseng said his speech would not have a typical speech format. “You could call it Seussical,” he added.

Following his speech, Tseng will present the Senior Gift to President Charles M. Vest. This year’s Senior Gift is the Student Life Scholarship, which will benefit visionary undergraduates whose ideas greatly impact student life.

Ticket shortage leads to scalping

The four tickets allocated to each graduate are not enough for some and superfluous for others. Some students have posted flyers and sent e-mails to mailing lists advertising the sale of these tickets; prices have been as high as $150. There have also been contests and auctions in the past for Commencement tickets.

A message posted on the Commencement webpage indicates that the Commencement Committee “believes that selling of Commencement tickets violates the spirit of this celebration of academic achievement, and in many cases violates MIT regulations.”

“This policy has been in place for many years,” said Commencement Committee Chairman W. Eric L. Grimson PhD ’80. “Every year we get a large number of complaints from students and parents who get insulted that other students are holding [the tickets] hostage, essentially. Last year it was particularly out of hand. A fair number of students not attending got tickets, then went to sell them.”

The sale of Commencement tickets violates MIT regulations and in many cases Massachusetts law, Grimson said. “The tickets have ‘Property of MIT’ printed on them, so students are not entitled to resell them,” he added. “If they post on MIT networks, it’s an abuse of MIT facilities.”

Grimson went on to note that “our message is not trying to enforce policy. This [Commencement] is an opportunity for celebration.”

Other students not interested in monetary gain share their tickets. One student requested an essay of 250 words from anyone wanting extra tickets, which would be given to the student with the best reasons.

“Trading tickets is better,” said Darlene M. Staines ’01. “It’s good [that] the Commencement Committee is trying to discourage ticket selling.”

Peter A. Shulman ’01 agreed, saying that the sale of tickets “makes Commencement become a privilege that money can buy.”

Graduates feel varied emotions

“I think the seniors will remember the rain,” Tseng said. “Almost all our major events had rain: the freshman picture, Killian Kick-Off, which was held in Johnson instead, [and] the Ring Cruise.”

Staines said graduating is “unreal, exciting, and kinda scary, but well-earned.” Staines will pursue a PhD at Chicago after spending the summer working at a biotechnology company.

“It’s bittersweet,” Tseng said. “There are friends we’re probably never gonna see again.” After graduating, Tseng will go to work for a strategic consulting firm, but not until he spends the summer backpacking in Europe.

Shulman said he didn’t feel the typical separation anxiety. “I’m just changing modes,” he said. Shulman will be participating in an MIT doctoral program in History and Social Study of Science and Technology.

For those unable to procure tickets, Commencement exercises will be broadcasted on closed-circuit television in various rooms in Buildings 1, 2 and 4; 10-250, 16-160, 26-100, 34-101, 56-114, E25-111, E51-145 and E51-149; Kresge Auditorium; and Kresge Little Theater.

In the event of extreme weather, guests will be forced to watch Commencement at one of these locations. The ceremonies would be held instead on the first floor of Rockwell Cage for the stage assembly and degree recipients only.