Peace Out, 2012!

Bennet ’87 to 2012: “Your generation has so many more opportunities to lead, to make change, than the Class of 1987 ever did.” Also, tear down those walls. Like Reagan. Sort of.

Congratulations, Wesleyan Class of 2012! Now go tear down some walls. Or something.

In case you’ve somehow missed it, a whopping 713 members of the senior class graduated on Andrus Field this morning after remarks by President Michael Roth ’78 (featuring references to WesRave, the ACB, and, err, “hipster pessimism”), a senior class welcome from Kennedy Odede ’12, and a stirring, historically heavy Commencement Address from Senator (and presidential heir) Michael Bennet ’87, who instructed one and all to “bring down those walls” and embrace “some period of public service” as the debt for the privilege of attending Wesleyan. “You will transform American politics for this new age,” said Bennet, “because otherwise it will become as irrelevant as the British parliament in 1776.”  Meanwhile, about halfway through Roth’s speech, a few unidentified students dropped a banner from nearby Clark denouncing ongoing changes to Wesleyan’s need-blind admissions practices. From my vantage point, the silent protest offered a large-scale complement to the “Keep Wes Need Blind” stickers I saw affixed to the shirts of student workers, graduates, alums, and even a few parents all day (more on this later). But what say you?

Seniors, you’ll be missed. But for now, go hug your grandparents. I’ve been driving them around all day on golf carts, and they’re totally psyched. (You can wait until tomorrow, I guess.)

For more comprehensive coverage, be sure to check out Wesleying’s own Commencement Liveblog, courtesy of BZOD, pyrotechnics, and a few well-charged laptops under a pine tree in sweltering heat. For additional resources on what went down and when, I would advise you to consult:

  • Wesleyan Connection coverage of Commencement 2012 here;
  • Senator Bennet’s Commencement Address in text form here;
  • Kennedy Odede ’12’s senior class welcome here;
  • President Roth’s address to the Class of 2012 here;
  • Nearly 500 professional-quality photos of Commencement here; and
  • A bazillion congratulatory statuses on your Facebook newsfeed;

Here’s a small gallery of photos I managed to snap on the fly while shuttling around the field on a golf cart for hours at a time. In case you’re wondering, campus photographer Olivia Drake has a far more expensive camera than I do, but my photos are far more likely to contain your grandparents, because I probably gave them a lift at some point.

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[Wesleyan Connection]

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  • Alumna ’12

    The banner in so many ways represents what I value about the Wes community and why graduating yesterday from Wes was a reason to celebrate (and be really sad to leave). Thank you Zach for putting up the photo! 

    Alumna ’12

  • Graduate

    Dear Wesleying / Zach,

    I was hoping that you could move the banner picture out of the main article, or at least below the jump. This was a day of celebration, and while said banner should be mentioned, I think it’s much more important to celebrate the students (full disclosure: I graduated yesterday) instead of noting a political protest that much of the audience was not therefore. Thanks,

    Alum ’12

    • Dear Anonymous Commenter/Alum ’12,

      I considered the same question and strongly considered leaving the banner out of the main post. Then I realized that it was a hugely visible display of student protest at the center of the most public event on Wesleyan’s campus; that a number of parents/guests noticed it and had questions (a few asked me what it meant); and that it will obviously go unmentioned in the university’s Commencement coverage (i.e., The Wesleyan Connection). The primary point of our post is clearly celebratory. But to let such a visible protest go unmentioned seems irresponsible and needlessly whitewashed. I’m not sure why your choice is between “celebrating the students” and “noting a political protest” without acknowledging both.

      It’s worth disclosing that while I wasn’t directly involved with hanging the banner, I know the students who were and supported the action. It’s also worth noting that Wesleying has never sought to provide a purely objective take on Wesleyan, nor an administration-approved Wesleyan Connection-style portrait. Wesleying aims for the student perspective on life at Wes.

      Thanks, though, for the comment,

      Zach

  • pyrotechnics

    A pine tree in heat is the key picture here.