May 23rd, 2010 | Uncategorized

At Baccalaureate ceremony, a call to service

An overcast Class Day opened this morning with the Baccalaurate service for seniors in Berkeley, Calhoun, Davenport and Ezra Stiles colleges, who filled the front rows of Woolsey Hall to hear addresses from University President Richard Levin and Yale College Dean Mary Miller.

“For four years, you’ve slogged through snow, sleet and rain, and now look at this nearly fine day,” Miller told the class of 2010 in her opening remarks.

Later, after students read from the Qur’an and the Bible and the Glee Club performed “Alleluia,” Miller gave a few readings of her own — including the traditional passage from John Milton. She compared Adam and Eve’s loss of Paradise to the seniors’ loss of ID card access to their residential colleges.

Levin followed Miller by urging the assembled relatives and friends to congratulate the seniors, then asking the seniors in turn to applaud their guests. But his address moved quickly from congratulations to a directive: Centering his speech around the theme of service, Levin told the class of 2010 to embrace public service. Though he said he personally supports President Barack Obama’s liberal initiatives, he said seniors should, above all, help the country to move beyond simple political ideologies.

“You may not recognize this in yourselves, but you’re ready for what’s next,” Levin said. “We need each of you to raise the level of debate.”

Levin and Miller spoke at the first of the weekend’s three Baccalaureate services on Saturday afternoon; the final service is Sunday at 11 a.m.

UPDATE: 6:10 p.m. Click here to read the full text of Levin’s address, “Reclaiming Politics.”