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May 26, 1985

Speaking at Commencement New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo urged the Class of 1985 to eschew moral detachment and to fight to change the world. He told the graduates “despite the glitter of the success and joy that surround you here today in the beautiful Hudson Valley, all is not well with the world we live in.” Cuomo said that professors, parents and relatives counted on today’s students to “be wiser than we are…to love more than we have.” He concluded by saying “ultimately, a better future for this whole place called the city and the state and the nation and the world will depend on our willingness to reject detachment. Vassar has taught you that, but now the world needs to learn it.”

During his speech, the Governor wore a red armband over his academic gown in protest of the continuing oppression through apartheid in South Africa. Commencement marshal Professor of Chemistry Curt Beck attempted to remove armbands from about 100 seniors who were wearing the armbands as they reached the stage. Beck defended his actions saying that academic gowns were above politics. “An academic gown is like the robe of a judge or the garment of a priest…an academic may not advertise.” He added that he had not seen such a display of protest since the Vietnam War. The Miscellany News

The Years