The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

7gw87w61
Members of the Class of 2008 don caps and gowns as they listen to speakers and are recognized for their achievements at Penn's Commencement ceremony. This year, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the Commencement address.

Standing before a sea of excited students in black robes in the middle of a sunny Franklin Field, University President Amy Gutmann began the 252nd Commencement Ceremony by warning the graduates that, before receiving their diplomas, "you must prove yourselves worthy of your Penn degrees by performing one last task: Endure our speeches."

But despite the light-hearted start, the speakers went on to address politics and activism in their remarks to the graduates.

Commencement speaker and Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg centered his speech on the upcoming elections.

"You've come at age when no one can say my vote doesn't matter because the election of 2000 proved that every vote counts - or at least every vote that didn't have a hanging chad, but that's another story," he said.

Though the owner of Bloomberg LLP told the crowd that he had yet to decide who he would be voting for, he offered insight into what he believed American voters were looking for in their next president.

"People want someone who . can mobilize both parties to confront the big, long term problems that they have so carefully avoided - health care, immigration, social security, poverty, infrastructure, budget deficits, public education, you name it," he said.

Mixing his serious message with jokes about everything from his speculated run for presidency to his cameo in the "Sex and the City" movie that was cut in production - "Turns out they wanted more sex and less city" - Bloomberg received warm applause and a standing ovation.

In a similar vein, Gutmann's address highlighted the activism of this generation and Penn students in particular.

"Yours is the first generation of young adults in more than 40 years to have turned on to civic action, tuned into public affairs and turned out to mobilize and vote in huge numbers - and all without the direct threat of a military draft, which mobilized many of my generation," she said.

She encouraged students to remain involved in their community after graduation, both for their own happiness and to help change the political and social landscape.

"I can't stop the cynics from stamping an early expiration date on your engagement," she said. ". Only you can prove the cynics wrong."

During the ceremony, honorary degrees were awarded to seven individuals, including Bloomberg.

Student reaction to the ceremony was mixed, with some surprised by the political tone of Bloomberg's address.

"[To some] it seemed like he was campaigning," said graduating College student Benjamin Ben-David.

But Ben-David, who said he loved the speech, didn't feel that it was too political.

"I think he was just talking to Philadelphians," he said.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.