Harvard received yesterday the text of a speech from Polish labor leader Lech Walesa, and President Bok will read excerpts from it at this afternoon's Commencement ceremonies.
The speech, which is 12 double-spaced pages long discusses the "political climate in Poland, and the history of the Solidarity movement." Harvard spokesman David Rosen said last night. He added that it "voices optimism" despite the fact that Walesa's organization Solidarity, has been outlawed.
Harvard originally announced early in April that the Gdansk electrician had accepted an invitation to deliver the Commencement address in person, but later reports indicated that he would not leave Poland. After giving up on that possibility and selecting another Commencement speaker. Mexican poet Carlos Funnies, officials floated the possibility that Walesa would mail the speech, and that someone else would deliver it.
Aside from the unusual aspect of hearing a speech in absentia, the ceremonies today should proceed traditionally.
Nine hundred and seventy-seven men and 518 women will bid farewell to undergraduate life today under sunny skies as Harvard's 322nd commencement exercises.
About 25,000 will attend the Tercentary Theatre ceremonies, which will be marked by student protests against Harvard's South African investments and in support of the Local 26 food service workers, who are currently negotiating a new contract with the University.
A coalition of progressive student groups including members of the Southern Africa Solidarity of America and the Harvard African Students Association (HASA), will distribute about 300 balloons and 7000 pamphlets urging students, parents, and alumni to oppose Harvard's financial ties to the apartheid state of South Africa.
The Commencement protest caps off a year of active student opposition to the University's investment policies. Students have conducted marches and rallies this semester and, in late March, 13 students and one faculty member staged a week long fast, intended to force the University into selling all its South Africa-related stock.
Organizers of the labor-oriented protest said that about 300 seniors will wear armbands and pins in support of the Harvard food service workers. In addition, protesters will hand out about 7000 copies of an "Unofficial Commencement Calendar" which calls for solidarity with the union, whose contract expires this summer.
This is the third consecutive year students have used the traditional ceremony to air political grievances. Last year, almost half the graduating senior class wore white armbands to protest the nuclear weapons race while two years ago seniors opposed U.S. involvement in El Salvador and a string of murders of Black children in Atlanta.
The National Weather Service has forecasted bright sunshine and temperatures of around 70 degrees for the Boston area throughout the day--
Workers have installed 20,000 chairs in the Tercentenary Theater, Frederick B. Jackson, superintendent of facilities in the Department of Buildings and Grounds, said yesterday, adding that another 1700 seats and 170 tables are used for the alumni spreads in the Old Yard.
Jackson, who has been helping direct Commencements since 1947, said that his "Com- mencement Task Force" began work as early as January and has been meeting weekly since March.
For the afternoon portion of the graduation exercises. President Bok and Commencement speaker Carlos Fuentes (see story and excerpts from the speech, page 14) a Mexican author and diplomat, will address the just graduated seniors, returning to the Yard for the Harvard Alumni Association Annual Meeting.