Grads to don cap and gown after 40 years

May 3, 2010 at 5:26 PM
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BOSTON, May 3 (UPI) -- Boston University has invited the class of 1970 to graduation ceremonies to make up for canceling commencement after the Kent State shootings, officials said.

Protests of the shooting deaths of four Kent State students during 1970 demonstrations against U.S. forces entering Cambodia during the Vietnam War shut down the BU campus, and university officials canceled commencement, The Boston Globe reported Monday.

Graduating seniors in 1970 got their diplomas in the mail.

Now the university has invited 3,000 living alumni of that year to return on May 16 to don caps and gowns and receive a certificate, the newspaper said.

BU President Robert A. Brown called the invitation a step toward healing.

"I feel this is more about a debt we owe them as a class," he said.

One graduate said the invitation brought back strong emotions.

"The whole thing is intriguing and bittersweet," Marsha Halperin-Epstein said. "It's a lot of emotions for a 62-year-old. It's a time of reflection."

Leslie Clarke, 61, plans to wear a piece of her mother's jewelry to acknowledge the mother's disappointment at not being able to see her daughter graduate.

"She worked so hard as a nurse to put me through school and education was a big deal to her and she never saw me graduate,'" Clarke said.

"I think what I'm looking for is closure," she said. "It's unfinished business."

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