Douglass Residential College (DRC) held its 102nd Fall Convocation for the Rutgers Class of 2024 on Saturday. The virtual event consisted of several speakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) serving as this year’s guest speaker.
DRC Dean Jacquelyn Litt began the ceremony with a welcome and words of encouragement for the incoming class.
“While we never intended for your fall semester to take place remotely, our virtual format makes this new phase of your life no less special or exciting. You’ll still have access to a whole new world of experiences and resources at (DRC) and Rutgers,” she said. “You come to college already having exhibited resiliency in very difficult times, and you forged on even when the road ahead seemed uncertain.”
Litt said they will work to make their students’ voices heard and to help increase the voices of other women around the world who do not have the platform to do so. She said that as a great environment for equity diversity and inclusion, DRC students will learn to better express their own values and take action in things that they care about.
Maggie Maniar, a School of Engineering senior and president of the Douglass Governing Council, also addressed the Class of 2024. She said that while our current world is not ideal, she believes the younger generation will be the one to change it.
“In these next few years, I challenge you to do just that. Take time to think about (the coronavirus disease) COVID-19 and the lack of access to healthcare that so many people are facing. Take time to think about our nation’s history of violence against Black people and how it persists today. Take time to think about climate change and the vulnerable communities it affects most,” she said. “Take time to think about our world and what you can do to change it.”
Following her address, University President Jonathan Holloway spoke and introduced Warren. He said that after her academic career at Rutgers, Warren has had a memorable career as a law professor, presidential candidate and thought leaders of our time.
“Now, as a senator representing the people of Massachusetts, (Warren) is a fearless consumer advocate who has made her life’s work the fight for middle-class families,” Holloway said. “Sen. Warren is one of the nation’s leading progressive voices advocating for structural change to transform the economy and rebuild the middle class.”
Warren began her address by saying that while it is a special time for the incoming class, it is a time filled with unprecedented crises for both the United States and the rest of the world.
She said this crisis indicates the need for people to fight for justice in our country’s basic systems now more than ever before.
“From housing to economic security and access to healthcare, the coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the deep inequities that persist in America, and that deeper revelation behind that truth gives me hope every day because it means that the values and the sense of community that you will learn here at (DRC) will be called upon like never before, in your families, in your communities and in your nation,” Warren said.
Additionally, she said it is important to have women in positions of power with lived experiences who have the confidence to question, to listen and to fight for bigger ideas.
In regards to the pandemic, Warren said doing our part and staying safe does not mean we need to be silent in times of crisis or injustice. She said the country as a whole needs to take action to support moving our families and communities forward, especially by voting in the upcoming election.
“Try to find something, anything, to be grateful about. Every single day we face an uphill battle but here’s what I know for sure: The only way we will make it is if we stand together, fight together and, yes, persist together,” Warren said. “So stay connected and stay strong. We are all in this one together.”