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Commencement policy in works

MIT is working to formulate a policy on demonstrations and leafleting at Commencement and other large campus events, according to Chancellor Phillip L. Clay.

The idea, which originated within the Commencement Committee, is to accommodate the free expression of ideas while assuring that such important community events as Commencement run smoothly. A working group headed by Clay has formulated a draft policy that includes the following principles:

  • Commencement exercises require complex and precise planning and the coming and goings of guests must be free of obstruction or interference.
  • MIT is committed to providing venues for demonstrations and leafleting and will designate several specific and visible spots for these activities at Commencement.
  • MIT relies on a tradition of collaboration in addressing sensitive community issues and prefers colleagues to treat demonstrations as a community matter--not, in the first instance, as a law enforcement matter. Individuals designated by the committee--faculty, staff and students--will be available to address issues should they arise.

In addition to Clay, the working group includes Senior Advisor to the President Kirk Kolenbrander; Professors Eric Grimson, John Belcher and Les Norford; Gayle Gallagher, executive officer for commencement; and students Rohit Gupta and Barun Singh.

The chancellor is seeking input from the community on this issue before finalizing the policy, which he hopes to do before Commencement. Send comments to

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 11, 2005 (download PDF).

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