Students Protest ExxonMobil CEO As Commencement Speaker

Students and faculty members are staging an alternative commencement to protest the choice of Rex Tillerson, CEO of oil giant ExxonMobil, as commencement speaker at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Peak Oil scholar and educator Richard Heinberg, a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, will give the alternative address on graduation day, May 14, at a location close to the official ceremony.

University officials informed the dissenting student group that any students leaving the official ceremony to listen to Richard Heinberg will not be allowed to return to receive their diplomas.  The students are seeking legal assistance to determine if the university is within its rights with this threat.

Faculty member and philosophy professor Roger Gottlieb is one of several professors opposed to the choice of Tillerson as official speaker. He explained his position to the Worcester Telegram:  “Clearly, humanity is in a terrible situation with our dependence on fossil fuels. It’s about making a speedy, rational and moral transition. What Exxon has done is to try to slow down that transition.”

In announcing the choice of Tillerson as speaker, WPI recognized ExxonMobil’s support; the corporation has donated some $1.3 million to help fund the university’s K-12 outreach programs in science, technology and math. The Institute noted that some 31 WPI alumni have gone to work at ExxonMobil in the last 10 years.

Last week, The Princeton Review named Worcester Polytechnic as one of the most environmentally responsible colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada for a second year in a row. In its “green guide,” WPI was hailed for its LEED-certified buildings and for its Institute for Energy and Sustainability.

To show your support for the protesters, take a moment to “like” the WPI Students for a Just and Sustainable Future’s “ExxonMobil Doesn’t Speak for Me” Facebook page. Richard Heinberg’s commencement speech will be open to the public.

 

Photo:  Kids, there's a bright future in oil…
ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson by  William Munoz under Creative Commons license


99 comments

Lindsey Williams
Lindsey Williams5 years ago

Those kids are so right. That guy is just a greedy man who doesn't care about the environment. I would be right there with them protesting.

Valerie G.
Valerie G.5 years ago

Agree with Scott M.

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Sorry about the double post. Care.2's actting up again, me thinks!

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Rabble Rouser, you have me very confused here. Are you saying that this school is justified in having this man, who represents nothing but corporate GREED be their keynote speaker? Are you saying Al Gore is a fraud? You need to clarify what it is that you're saying.

Diane L.
Diane L.5 years ago

Rabble Rouser, you have me very confused here. Are you saying that this school is justified in having this man, who represents nothing but corporate GREED be their keynote speaker? Are you saying Al Gore is a fraud? You need to clarify what it is that you're saying.

Rabble Rouser
Rabble Rouser5 years ago

I am truly grateful to WPI for a 27 year engineering career and the science training to understand the serious nature of climate change, and more importantly for the social and political philosophy minor that gave me the moral courage to act as these students have.


My favorite advisor at WPI, Roger Gottlieb said it in a local paper better than I:

"Faculty member and philosophy professor Roger Gottlieb is one of several professors opposed to the choice of Tillerson as official speaker. He explained his position to the Worcester Telegram: "Clearly, humanity is in a terrible situation with our dependence on fossil fuels. It's about making a speedy, rational and moral transition. What Exxon has done is to try to slow down that transition.""

To the deniers posting above:
Al Gore is no friend of mine. I never voted for him. Its just wacky to give him that much influence. The climate science speaks for itself.
I've personally measured CO2 levels for 27 years, demonstrated the simple physics of the greenhouse effect. The evidence of warming is real and obvious if you'd get away from the denier cult and look out the window.

ExxonMobile paid $0 in U.S. taxes last year. According to CNN Money, "Exxon doled out more than $15 billion in income tax payments to foreign countries last year. U.S. tax codes allow companies to take massive deductions in light of those international charges, which knocked Exxon's federal income-tax bill down into negative territory." Get

Scott M.
Its wonderful e.5 years ago

Imagine running a successful company, creating millions of jobs, paying billions in taxes and not wasting taxpayers money.

Maybe the students could learn to be productive instead of dependents.

Patricia A.
Patricia A.5 years ago

You GO Students! I completely agree with NOT having someone like Exxon's CEO! They haven't even paid their bill from the disaster in 89. Not a dime they've paid for the abuse of animals and destroyed environment in Alaska. And Exxon wants to continue destroying our lands. We don't want their oil for the future, we want CLEAN AIR!

Scott M.
Its wonderful e.5 years ago

Here’s how the online Urban Dictionary defines a warmenist: “Gullible, scientificially (sic) illiterate, unthinking acolyte and zombie-fired propagandist of the Religion of Anthropogenic Global Warming.”

One in the eye, one supposes, for all those academies of science which have declared they accept the science of global warming and man’s role in it. But the definition goes on: “One who takes direct orders from High Priest King of Idiocy, Albert J. Gore. One who puts the “mental” in environmentalism. Historical inheritors of those who believed that King Canute could hold back the tides and that the wolf would eat the moon unless their first-born daughter’s virginity was sacrificed to the local shaman.”

Posing AsMe
Posing Asme5 years ago

I'm pretty sure they can't withhold diplomas. I certainly hope they can't.