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Launching the Class of 2002

World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn told more than 2,100 graduates to be mindful of issues people in the Third World face. “The notion of two worlds is no longer a reality,” he said. “September 11 made us recognize the reality that was there September 10.”

Graduating students held up red signs giving Wolfensohn and the World Bank an F for their work in developing countries, and more than 100 protesters on Memorial Drive waved banners and beat drums before the ceremonies to protest World Bank policies.

“Seeking maximum returns on their investments is in conflict with alleviating poverty,” said Payal Parekh, a graduate student in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences.

Wolfensohn discussed the importance of creating “planetary equity,” urging students to use their educations to address issues of poverty and development.

MIT president Charles M. Vest’s remarks also had an international flavor. He reaffirmed the Institute’s commitment to OpenCourseWare, the initiative that will post MIT course content on the Web over the coming decade. “We see it as part of a mission to raise the quality of education in every part of the world,” he said.

In response to debates in the U.S. Congress about restricting student visas, Vest said the United States should continue giving students from all parts of the world the opportunity to study at institutions like MIT. “We should not let fear close doors,” he said.

A video of Wolfensohn’s commencement address can be viewed on MIT World at web.mit.edu/mitworld.

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