Boston University held it’s 146th All-University Commencement on Sunday for the graduating Class of 2019. Multiple speakers, including National Academy of Sciences President Marcia McNutt and College of Arts and Sciences senior Adia Turner, gave their well wishes to graduating seniors.
The university handed out rain ponchos due to inclement weather as the seniors were processing, but the heavy rain gave way to sunny skies in time for the ceremony to begin. BU spokesperson Colin Riley said after the rain stopped, the commencement went well.
“The sun was shining and it was a really happy atmosphere,” Riley said. “Everything went well, the speakers were terrific.”
This year, 7,509 students graduated from BU, Riley said.
Marcia McNutt was the commencement speaker this year and delivered a speech focussed on the trials graduating seniors will have to face and how to combat misinformation with a scientific approach.
“In many ways life is easier today, but in other ways it’s more confusing,” McNutt said. “We have more information at our fingertips than ever before, but in today’s world of misinformation and disinformation, it’s all being weaponized to obscure the truth.”
McNutt said she recommends using a scientific method of truth-seeking to guide decision-making in all areas, including social, economic and political decisions.
“The basis of trust in science is transparency, control of bias and the ability to independently verify results,” McNutt said. “This set of procedures for deciding what to trust can be applied broadly.”
Students cheered when McNutt said this culture of misinformation is having “real-world consequences” in regard to climate change.
“This puts the U.S. in the singular position of being the only nation to opt-out of the Paris Climate Accords,” McNutt said. “We’re facing a perplexing array of complex decisions that affect personal health, safety, wellbeing, but, more importantly, the future viability of our planetary life support systems.”
McNutt urged students to call out misinformation when they see it, from “junk science” to an inaccurate article their friend shares on Facebook.
Students also heard a speech from student speaker Turner, who looked back on the Class of 2019’s four years at BU and forward into their futures.
“We the Class of 2019 have heard our collective voice grow over these past years as we have found out who we are,” Turner said. “As witnesses to a political, cultural and social shift that could have scared us into silence, we instead have turned our volumes up.”
Turner mentioned the societal events this class has witnessed, from polarizing elections to mass shootings and how the class has responded to these events with vigils and marches. She urged students to continue speaking out after they leave BU.
“Let us carry our proud, strong voices into the next season of our lives as we continue searching for greatness,” Turner said. “We were built for this.”
Riley said the graduates left a class gift in the form of a financial contribution to important student programs, like the Howard Thurman Center, BU’s schools and colleges, and student clubs.
“The class gift people really personalized their work and their reasons for it,” Riley said, “and I think they did an outstanding job.”