The MIT Commencement exercises this Friday, with speakers President William J. Clinton and prominent AIDS specialist Dr. David D. Ho (an alumnus of the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology), will be the largest Commencement in MIT's history.
It will be attended by about 2,500 graduates and 10,000 of their families and friends in Killian Court and may be witnessed by thousands more around the world who can watch it broadcast on the World Wide Web or other television, cable and radio outlets.
On Thursday, more than 400 graduates receiving doctoral degrees will take part in the hooding ceremony in Rockwell Cage, in an event that has become a community highlight of Commencement.
Friday morning, families and guests will begin to enter Killian Court as early as 6:30am in order to allow time to screen all guests through metal detectors. Given the early hour, a light snack will be available in the Court.
Killian Court will be closed to guests at approximately 9am at the discretion of the Secret Service. Buildings 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 13 will be closed from 2am until 1pm on Friday, as announced May 27 in a special edition of MIT Tech Talk.
The procession of trustees, faculty and alumni/ae is scheduled to enter Killian Court at 10am, followed by the graduating students. Dr. Ho is scheduled to speak at about 10:49. President Charles Vest will introduce President Clinton at about 11:15, and President Clinton is scheduled to begin speaking at about 11:18.
Channel 5 will cover the Clinton speech live.
The ceremony can also be seen over the web from 10:30am-2pm. MIT sent invitations to the webcast to 25,000 alumni/ae and incoming students last week. Information on how to download free software ahead of time is available at http://web.mit.edu/commencement/1998/video.html. MIT Video Productions will send the fiber-optic signal to TV stations, which can receive it through the Bell Atlantic TV operations center in Boston.
The MIT signal will also be carried on MIT Cable and on Media One, the cable television operator in Cambridge and other communities. The campus radio station (WMBR, 88.1 FM), will carry all the festivities live starting at 9am.
The Commencement exercises will be held in Killian Court regardless of weather. Commencement Ambassadors will hand out rain ponchos if needed, and guests are encouraged to bring their own umbrellas.
A variety of locations on campus will be equipped with simulcast coverage for guests who decide to leave Killian Court. These locations are as follows: Kresge Auditorium, Rockwell Cage, the Sala de Puerto Rico (second floor of Stratton Student Center), Wong Auditorium, and Rms 56-114, 56-154, 16-160, 26-100, 34-101, E25-111, E51-145, and E51-149.
METAL DETECTOR GUIDELINES
To ensure that all guests are screened within the allotted arrival times above, attendees are asked to observe guidelines developed by the MIT Campus Police and the Commencement Committee in consultation with the US Secret Service.
Attendees may not carry large or metallic objects such as wrapped gifts, radios, large key rings or beverage containers. If you are bringing a camera or video recorder, officials suggest you leave behind the case to expedite screening.
"Even items known to be safe will be scrutinized and will cause delays," the guidelines note. "MIT cannot accept responsibility for storing items that are not permitted through security checkpoints. You would be required to remove them to another area and return to Killian Court for re-screening."
"MIT Campus Police will do what is appropriate and within their power to prevent disruption of the Commencement exercises. Because of President Clinton's presence, any disruptive activity in Killian Court will be treated with low tolerance by the Secret Service and the MIT Campus Police."
Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.
TRAFFIC AND PARKING
The security arrangements for President Clinton's visit will change commuting and parking patterns at MIT on Commencement Day. Campus Police Chief Anne Glavin recommends that employees reporting for a normal work day in the open buildings may want to avoid traffic snarls by getting to MIT by 8am. Chief Glavin says that Memorial Drive, Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street may be closed for a period of up to an hour. Other streets may also be affected.
Because of the building closings from 2am-1pm on June 5, there will be many fewer employees parking during those hours. Employees assigned to park in East Garage, West Garage or the CRA lot (at Main and Ames Streets) will park in West Garage and the West Lot. The Main Lot and Main Lot annex will be closed. Only employees with Main Lot stickers may park in either Kresge Lot or the East Garage and Lot.
Graduates and their guests will park in lots off Main Street: the East Garage, the East Annex Lot and the CRA Lot.
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
Parking for disabled guests will be on Ames Street, at the West Garage, and the lot at the corner of Massachusetts Ave. and Vassar Street, which will be used exclusively for disabled guests. In addition, if you are driving a person who requires closer access to the court, you may have guests disembark at Ames Street, and police officers will route you back to one of the designated parking areas (East Garage, East Annex and the CRA lot). Ambassadors will be available along Ames Street to provide assistance.
There will be American Sign Language interpretation of the opening remarks and speeches. Due to the limited number of wheelchairs available on campus, it is recommended that individuals who require them bring their own or rent them elsewhere before traveling to Cambridge.
Commencement Photos, Inc., will photograph each graduate not only when he or she receives the diploma, but also as he or she exits the ramp holding the diploma. This additional photography option has been included because the previously announced "photo corral" has been eliminated in conjunction with security and press arrangements. If you need additional order information from Commencement Photos, contact the firm directly at (978) 851-5924.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 3, 1998.