This article by Chris Mays originally appeared May 13 in the Brattleboro Reformer.
MARLBORO — The divisive state of the country mentioned by speakers at the Marlboro College commencement ceremony Sunday played out in real time after one of the graduating students was booed for what appeared to be political beliefs.
The student walked on stage to accept his degree when jeering came from the back of the building. The student’s grandmother walked on stage later, just as the recessional music was set to begin.
“I would like to suggest that Marlboro College is progressive only in name, not in behavior,” she said. “It is a disgusting display to hear people in this audience boo.”
The grandmother said the school should strive to be diverse not only in race and sexual orientations but also in beliefs and debate of ideas. A student from the school also had come to the podium uninvited earlier in the ceremony to say the boo was inappropriate and inconsistent with the college’s values.
College President Kevin Quigley told the Reformer he did not recognize the person who made a loud boo from the back of the auditorium but later learned it was a former student. He said the individual had fled before the school’s chief of security could locate him and conferring of the degrees continued.
“One student was observed to have stepped aside from her place in line and waited for the student who had been heckled, and walked with him as a gesture of support as they left the auditorium,” Quigley said. “During the academic year, the interim dean of students and I had numerous intensive discussions with the student who was heckled today and a group of students who had behaved inappropriately towards this student. Consistent with college’s values, policy and practices, our community court sanctioned that group of students for their behavior unwelcome in our college community. We believe we had taken many appropriate steps to address this situation and were not anticipating any disruption at today’s commencement.”
Read full story at the Brattleboro Reformer.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)