Click here for a photographic essay.
also, Commencement Remarks by journalist and broadcaster James
Tolerance and Freedom of Expression
Remarks by Mitchell Marcus, Chair of the Faculty Senate
is my honor as Chair of the Faculty Senate to bring to you and
your families the congratulations of the Faculty. It has been
my great pleasure to teach many of you during these past years
and to watch you learn and grow. You and your families have much
to be proud of.
leave Penn to find the surrounding world a much different place
than when you entered. The booming prosperity of the 1990s has
been replaced by more difficult times. The vicious attack on the
United States last September has sent this country to war. For
many of us, this attack has greatly strengthened our common sense
of community. But this attack has also strengthened the undercurrent
of intolerance that has always swirled beneath the surface of
an academic community, Penn provides the clearest model in our
society to counter this intolerance. As Penn's Code of Student
Conduct says, "The University of Pennsylvania is a community in
which intellectual growth, learning from others, mutual tolerance,
and respect for freedom of thought and expression are principles
of paramount importance."
learned of this statement in a remarkable column in The Daily
Pennsylvanian coauthored by David Kagan, the president of
Penn Hillel, the Jewish student organization; and Angela Migally,
the president of the Penn Arab Student Society. Speaking in one
voice, they write that the job of students "is to constructively
critique and analyze the abundance of information that we process
daily. Opinions differ, as they must. Yet, instead of passively
accepting ... stereotypical definitions .., we must open the dialogue,
on both an individual and a communal level." Kagan and Migally
really get it. But this is more than just the job of students;
this is the job of all citizens in a free society.
1731, Ben Franklin said much the same thing when pushed to censor
what he published. When citizens, he said, "differ in Opinion,
both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard
by the Public; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the
former [the Truth] is always an overmatch for the latter."
a practical man, Franklin understood that mutual tolerance and
respect for freedom of thought and expression aren't utopian goals;
that although they often seem risky, they reliably move society
forward. Take these values with you into the communities in which
you will live and become leaders. Exemplify them for others. You
and your communities will be much the stronger for it.