We, as proud members of the Class of 2011, wish to participate in commencement as fully as possible. However, it would be unconscionable for us to sit passively during a commencement which is so thoroughly against our values. ExxonMobil has directly harmed the families’ of some students at WPI; it has funded disinformation against our disciplines; it has derailed climate change policies that are necessary to ensure a safe and stable world for us, our children, and our grand-children.
We will withdraw our consent. We will walk out of the ceremony before Mr. Tillerson speaks, then return later to receive our diplomas and share the rest of the ceremony with our class.
When we walk out, we will be walking out to hear from a counterpoint speaker. We have confirmed that Richard Heinberg from the Post Carbon Institute will be able to speak. Richard Heinberg is the Senior Fellow-in-Residence of the Post Carbon Institute. This will not take place on the WPI Quad where the official ceremony is situated, but will instead take place at a nearby (walkable), separate location. All are welcome to come hear him speak.
When: Saturday, May 14 · 11:00am – 2:00pm, near Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
We hope you will join us.
Q. How are you ensuring respect for the ceremony?
Many have raised concerns that the Counterpoint Events will disrupt commencement, a day that is special to many people and that celebrates 4 years of hard work and accomplishment.
We recognize that graduation is a very special event for all students, ourselves included. Many of us are seniors whose families have traveled far and wide for this special time (even from Germany and Alaska!), and who are excited for May 14th despite the speaker.
Our intent is not to disrupt the ceremony, but rather show integrity to our values.
To this end, we will walk out quietly and undisruptively, with respect for the ceremony that, we too, hold dear, and to the students do wish to hear Tillerson speak. We would like to minimize the amount of disturbance as we file in and out of our seats, and we are working with the administration to arrange a time when those wishing to leave are invited to do so.