Archbishop Desmond Tutu, prominent anti-apartheid activist and Nobel Peace
Prize winner, will address the graduating class of 1987 in May.
“I feel really pleased that it all worked out,” said Senior Class
President Nazeem Muhajarine. “We put a lot of time and effort into our
proposal. We didn’t want anything to go wrong.”
Muhajarine and other class officers, Vice President Shoshanna Kaminsky and
Secretary George Smith polled the senior class to see if they would support the
decision to invite Tutu and obtained ABUSUA’s endorsement.
Sixty-five faculty members endorsed the proposal to grant Tutu an honorary
Doctor of Humanities degree, which the Trustees signed.
“The proposal was passed in a surprisingly low-key way,” said
Muhajarine. “You’re prepared for a fight and then you realize you
don’t have to.”
Tutu is a vocal supporter of divestment.
He “has shown that to campaign for the cause of peace is not a question
of silent acceptance,” said Chairman of the Norwiegan Nobel Committee Egil
It is for exactly this reason that some students anticipate a charged
atmosphere at Commencement this spring
“We all know that he’s really an outspoken critic of South
Africa,” said Muhajarine. “He’s going to make us embarrassed,
he’s going to point out the contradictions and paradoxes of
Oberlin’s history, and the press is going to love it.”
“His visit it is going to galvanize the whole community,” said
Muhajarine. “If things don’t change between now and May 25, it could
be an ugly commencement. I don’t think the trustees or the administration
would want that. The whole country would know.”