Eliza Shapiro woke up so early for CC Class Day. Liz Naiden was late but she is forgiven, just this once. Their report follows. If you have pictures, video or overheards from this Class Day or any other, send em in using our tips form.
Bwog guesstimates that it took 3.66 rounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” to seat the entire CC Class of 2010 and faculty in their cushier chairs. At last, our fearless leader took the stage greeted by an exceedingly shrill cry of “PREZBOOOO” from one young woman and then a larger chant of “PrezBo”, which made Mr. Bo look intensely uncomfortable, and we were off.
Salutatorian and generally high-achieving person Jeff Spear delivered the first speech, complete with a Nietzsche reference: slave morality will hunt you down on your graduation day. Dean Kevin “Kev” Shollenberger, looking especially spiffy in baby blue (it’s those eyes) took the podium to introduce Class Day Speaker Ben Jealous, President of the NAACP. Jealous got a preemptive round of applause when Shollenberger noted that he’d been suspended from Columbia College.
Jealous delivered a rousing speech, prompting CC 2010 President Cliff Massey to tell his classmates, “I told you he’d be good,” probably because of this. Jealous, who eventually graduated in 1994 (read more about his CC days here), described the current state of the universe as one of “Dickensian contradiction.” He noted that Sarah Palin and her acolytes want to “party like it’s 1776,” (i.e take the country back several large steps) which was met with boos and cheers from the crowd, presumably unclear on what the boo or cheer supported or condemned. Jealous went on to relate fascinating anecdotes from his post-CC-suspension time in Mississippi, including a dramatic encounter with a man Jealous thought was going to kill him (but ended up offering help) in a Waffle House and an actual death threat from the KKK’s press office. The speech was well-received, and, yeah, more biased than most of your run-of-the-mill graduation speeches, but Bwog thinks that was kind of the point of having someone like Jealous speak in the first place. Jealous finished with the following pieces of advice: go with your gut, and “let’s party like it’s 2010!” EC, Heights or Campo? Or is everyone in Bushwick already?
After many, many awards were given- notably to the Valedictorian Arianne Richard and another to Mr. Spear, the President of the Alumni Association to the podium ask everyone to donate money (the Senior Fund raised $18,626, a CC record!) and made fun of the seniors for “giving the Deans a new definition of the term ‘pregame.’” During his speech, muffled chants and shouts from Beyond the Gates made everyone turn to each other to ask “hey, what’s that shouting?” Bwog ran as fast as our little feet could carry us across College Walk, and found a scene not unlike the storming of the Bastille. As we reported a few hours ago, over 30 construction workers, hard hats and all, holding signs and protesting the Community Benefits Agreement (“hey, ho, CBA has got to go!”). According to the entire CBA (read it all here) agreed upon by Columbia and the West Harlem Local Development Corporation (WHLDC), CU will pay $76 million to the Benefits Fund controlled by the WHLDC. It has been argued, and was certainly argued loudly outside the Gates today, that this amount is insufficient (or worse, according to the semi-reliable NYPost) for Columbia/West Harlem residents and workers. Public Safety shut the Gates, then opened them to let in tourists, the protesters moved across the street, and everyone simmered down. Update: The NYT caught on!
PrezBo took the stage next (after having crushed the protesters with his bare hands; just another Monday morning) and made a joke about Glee that was justified by his claim that “someone told me that one would work as a joke.” He congratulated the graduates and reminded them that, “Facilities has asked me to remind you that the red flag [on South Lawn] is up today.” His PSA was greeted with a round of boos, to which PrezBo, responded, “life is tough, I know.” Oh Lee C, just tell us you love us back!
At last, it was time to graduate. The Advising Deans took turns calling everyone’s name, a difficult task that they looked tremendously relieved to have survived by the time that “Kev” yelled “The Class of 2010!” and, just like magic, the Clefhangers showed up! We all sang “Roar, Lion, Roar” with them and went to Hamilton Lawn for snacks.
CC 2010, we are very proud of you, and we’ll miss you. Congratulations!