MIT holds OneMIT commencement ceremony

Noubar Afeyan PhD ’87 and President Sally Kornbluth deliver remarks: proceedings interrupted by protests

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2:52 PM: Graduates and guests make their way onto Killian Court for the OneMIT ceremony in rainy weather
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3:05 PM: Members of the class of '74 wear 50th reunion red jackets as they process to their seats
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3:17 PM: Members of the procession stand at the front of the ceremony
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3:21 PM: The Chorallaries perform at the OneMIT commencement ceremony
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3:27 PM: Graduates display banners protesting the suspension of protesters and calling for divestment at the front of the ceremony
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3:28 PM: Someone in the crowd holds up an Israeli flag, while someone else holds a banner that says "Boston Jews say end the genocide"
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3:29 PM: Pro-Palestinian graduates and supporters walk around Killian Court in front of someone in the crowd waving an Israeli flag
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The Institute held its OneMIT commencement ceremony today on May 30. Noubar Afeyan PhD ’87 gave the commencement address and MIT President Sally Kornbluth delivered the charge to the graduates. Chair of the MIT Corporation Mark P. Gorenberg ’76 presided over the ceremony. The proceedings were disrupted by protests led by a pro-Palestinian contingency and pro-Israeli supporters.

Processions and Formalities

The Institute’s class of 1974, donned in red jackets and straw hats, entered to a light fanfare. Shortly afterward, the academic procession began, led by Kornbluth, Afeyan, and Gorenberg.

Most of the seats reserved for the graduates were filled at this time. A few graduates draped keffiyehs while others decorated the tops of their caps as Palestinian flags. The majority of graduates, however, were clad in traditional graduation regalia.

Institute chaplain Thea Keith-Lucas gave brief remarks. Keith-Lucas said that at times within the Institute, the community “move[s] through the world [but] don’t join it,” and “hear the echo back of our own hopes and fears.” She stated “I want to bless the moments the clock stops and the machine of productivity lurches to a halt.” “Let our souls fly free together, “ she added.

As Keith-Lucas concluded, a brief fanfare transitioned into a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by the Chorallaries of MIT.

Gorenberg introduces Afeyan, protests begin on Killian Court

Mark P. Gorenberg ’76, who presided over the duration of the ceremony, rose to introduce Noubar Afeyan, the commencement speaker for the 2024 graduates. After Gorenberg finished his remarks and as Afeyan got up to speak, dozens seated amongst the graduates rose.

At the front of reserved seating for graduates and in front of the main stage, pro-Palestinian protestors unveiled banners as over one hundred students stood and chanted in protest. Afeyan returned to his seat.

A shower of boos rained in from some of those seated. Israeli flags held by members of the audience as well as some of the seated graduates appeared.

The livestream of the ceremony was paused with the word “Interlude.” Light music played as protestors chanted and walked around the perimeter of the seated graduates. A banner held by a group of pro-Israeli supporters trailed behind a line of pro-Palestinian protestors.

The interruption eventually lasted for several minutes. During this time, several boos from within the seated graduates were heard. Eventually, over one hundred graduates appeared to have exited Killian Court in a walkout that continued to Massachusetts Avenue in front of Lobby 7.

Afeyan delivers remarks

Noubar Afeyan PhD ’87, Chief Executive Officer of Flagship Pioneering, delivered the commencement address to the Class of 2024. Afeyan is best known for co-founding the biotechnology company Moderna and is a member of the MIT Corporation.

Afeyan’s speech, titled “Embrace Your Mission Impossible,” chronicled his journey through entrepreneurship and innovation as well as his life story. Afeyan made numerous references to the popular film series Mission Impossible.