The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 41.0°F | Fair


Don’t Ruin Commencement

As we draw closer to Commencement, the controversy surrounding the speaker -- James D. Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank Group -- has increased. In numerous places throughout the community, I see references to planned protests and boycotts. I have heard people use phrases such as “it will be a real slap in the face ...” and “we’ll make sure Wolfensohn wishes he never came ... .” Furthermore, most of these people are fueled by the fact that they believe the entire campus -- perhaps even the entire world -- is united in support of them.

These would-be protesters, however, are forgetting one thing: This is Commencement! Commencement is a joyous occasion. This is something that we, the Class of 2002, have been working towards for four years. This is one of the few things that has kept us from being asphyxiated by the flow of knowledge from the proverbial fire hose. I am saddened and angered (but not surprised) by the fact that these potential protesters feel that their cause is more important than celebrating the academic achievements of over a thousand undergraduates and numerous graduate students.

To these potential protesters, I say this: Think long and hard about whether protesting at Commencement is really worth it. Some of you are likely graduate students; would you have enjoyed your undergraduate commencement if there had been numerous people demonstrating, carrying signs, and yelling things? Do you really think it’s fair that the students who have worked so hard should be punished because Vest picked a speaker that many people don’t like? Is it fair to the parents who have traveled thousands of miles, and paid numerous bursar’s bills, that all videos and photos of commencement should contain a bunch of loud students yelling slogans in the direction of the podium?

Protest all you want when Wolfensohn arrives in Boston. Follow his motorcade down Memorial Drive yelling slogans. Stick flyers on the windshield of his car while he’s stuck in traffic on the Central Artery. Find out where the next World Bank meeting is and start a riot outside the doors if you feel it will make the world a better place. Just don’t ruin Commencement.

John D. Reed ’02