Petition to Shirley Ann Jackson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Association
Rescind Bill Cosby's Honorary Degree from RPI
On May 21, 2001, I sat in the Pepsi Arena in Albany, New York, with 1,100 of my peers as we awaited our chance to walk across the stage and receive our hard-earned degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We spent countless sleepless nights working and learning everything we possibly could to help us go out and change the world with the likes of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr, inventor of the Ferris Wheel, Jack Swigert, Air Force test pilot and NASA astronaut, and Marcian Hoff, father of the microprocessor. In previous years, commencement speakers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have ranged from presidents of large organizations and inventors to scientists and entrepreneurs. For this graduation, comedian Bill Cosby was chosen to provide us with the keynote speech and send us off with words of wisdom, experience, and advice for the future. RPI president Shirley Ann Jackson introduced Cosby by saying he “emphatically believes that the best assurance for a satisfying and rewarding life begins with knowledge.” She went on to present him with an honorary degree which he crassly accepted only after removing his ceremonial robes to reveal a sweatshirt and baseball cap with tassel. Should he have known better than to laugh in the face of a tradition dating back hundreds of years? While this move was somewhat disrespectful, Cosby went on to deliver a motivating speech about character, integrity, and honesty - essential words for every graduate spoken by America’s tv dad, Dr. Cliff Huxtable. He went on to say “No one will know who you are unless you tell the truth. No one will know who you are if you don’t take responsibility for the mistakes that you make, and stand up and say, ‘I did it.’” Nearly 17 years to the date of this speech, Cosby, the man who spoke to us on the importance of character and integrity, has been found guilty on three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in 2004. Not to mention the dozens of women who have accused him of similar allegations. This man, a stand-up comedian who was once an actor and producer of a beloved family show in the 80’s and 90’s, turns out to not possess the character, integrity, or honesty about which he spoke. The District Attorney for the case told reporters “What was revealed through this investigation was a man who had spent decades preying on women that he drugged and sexually assaulted. He used his celebrity, he used his wealth, he used his network of supporters to help him conceal his crimes.” This man came to our graduation, made a mockery of the honorary degree our college bestowed upon him and presented us with advice he himself did not stand behind. While it is not possible to take back the past or erase the fact that Cosby spoke at graduation, he can and should be stripped of the Honorary Doctorate of Arts and Humane Letters he received that day. So many others have already rescinded their honors on the basis of mere allegations, but they are now court ruled crimes he has committed towards women. RPI should follow suit and not tarnish or minimize the achievements of their hardworking, honest, and decent students.
Petition to Hermitage High School, Henrico County School Board
Let me walk at graduation!
Hi, My name is Corrine Watts. I'm 18 years old and I grew up in Richmond, VA.I will graduate from Hermitage High School this June and I want to walk with my class. They are stopping me from doing so. See, I have mental illnesses that make it impossible for me to attend school daily such as PTSD, Anxiety and Depression. Therefore, I am put on homebound schooling. At the beginning of the year, they sold me a cap and gown and told me I could graduate. I was put on homebound schooling shortly after. They told me I could still walk until about two months ago.They cite the beginning heading of the homebound paperwork for my school district as the reason I cannot walk. They said the only way I could, would be to come back EVERY. DAY. for a month. They know I cannot do that. They thought I'd surrendered, but this is a once in a lifetime celebration I do not want to miss out on. My family didn't think I would see this day. They want this for me as well. The beginning of the paperwork states the following: "Homebound Instruction shall be made available to students who are confined at home or in a heath care facility for periods that would prevent normal school attendance (8VAC20-131-180). The term “confined at home or in a health care facility” means the student is unable to participate in the normal day-to-day activities typically expected during school attendance;and, absences from home are infrequent, for periods of relatively short duration, or to receive health care treatment. Students receiving fulltime homebound instruction may not work orparticipate in extra-curricular activities, non-academic activities (such as field trips), or community activities."I have spoken to several student mental health representatives and they tell me that graduating is a RIGHT I have!I want to fight for this right! I should not have to be forced to come back to a place I physically cannot be in because of my mental health. All I want to do is walk with my class. Last year, a friend of mine got to walk with the class of 2017 after completing a GED through them as well. That does not seem fair to me. Please sign and share, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity I don't want to miss out on because I am mentally ill!
Petition to Senior Class
Class President Speech
I have been class president for 3 years (the executive council didn’t exist freshman year). I have been in charge of planning multiple dances, car washes, the junior and senior 2017 prom, and currently planning graduation. I feel as class president I am the face and voice of the class. I recently found out I do not get a speech at graduation, and personally I believe the class deserves to have their voices heard at graduation.
Petition to Donald Trump
Replace "pomp and circumstance" at graduations with Congratulations by Post Malone
For years, Pomp and Circumstance has been played at graduations, and with the ever-evolving music industry, this song is outdated. Congratulations (clean) by Post Malone would be an excellent replacement. When the lyrics are analyzed, you can hear that the entire song is about perseverance, even when people doubt you. And with the yearly rising dropout rate, students might want to graduate more if they get to share this special moment with music they like. I know that at my school, some kids don't have much to look forward to, and music is their escape. So, if we can replace Pomp and Circumstance with Congratulations (clean) by Post Malone, we will enjoy graduation more and kids will be even more motivated to graduate.