MAILED: Aug. 8, 1997|
EAU CLAIRE -- While diplomas from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire carry with them opportunities for economic and social successes, they also carry with them important responsibilities, Dr. Ronald Satz said during his commencement address Saturday morning.
"While you seek to climb up the stepladder of success in your chosen fields of endeavor - while you progressively acquire the physical symbols of success such as new apartments or homes and new cars - I ask that you remember to give something back in return to your families, to your communities, to society and to humankind," said Satz, dean of the College of Professional Studies.
Satz delivered the "Charge to the Class" during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony in Zorn Arena. Summer commencement exercises were held for 221 students at UW-Eau Claire, including 177 candidates for bachelor's degrees and 44 candidates for master's degrees.
Regardless of the successes they find, Satz urged students to not forget to notice what is happening around them.
"It is all too easy to get caught up in the routine of day-to-day existence and to ignore the impact that your opinion, your ballot, your service, your compassion, and your contributions can have in addressing the problems facing our society, but the cost of non-participation can be very great," Satz said.
Satz noted that he has Jewish and Christian relatives who experienced firsthand the horrors of the Nazi nightmare of the 1930s and '40s, and has spent a great deal of time studying the treatment of American Indians.
As a result, he said, he has never forgotten words written by Philadelphia housewife Lois Stalvey in a 1970 publication titled "The Education of a White Anglo Saxon Protestant." In that publication, Stalvey pondered the meaning of the German concentration camps, and especially the behavior of the German people who lived near the camps but claimed at the time and later that they never knew what was happening to the people shipped there.
Stalvey, according to Satz, in 1962 moved from the white middle-class serenity of Omaha, Neb., to a black neighborhood in Philadelphia where she received what she described as her real education. Satz quoted her as saying that as a result of her move she was able to draw an analogy between the attitudes of the German people who lived near the concentration camps and the events that took place in a racially torn America in the 1960s.
According to Satz, Stalvey wrote that she had always felt disgust for the Germans who claimed they did not know what was happening just 10 miles from their home. But, Satz said, after moving to a black neighborhood, she realized all that she did not know about black people and all that white people still denied such as the massacres on the streets of Newark and Detroit, the hidden murders and the casual shootings of black teen-agers by police, and the black children condemned to a living death by brutal, demeaning teachers.
"It is easier than any of us believes to live 10 miles from Dachau," Satz quoted Stalvey as writing.
"Stalvey's poignant commentary holds important meaning for us as we look forward to the beginning of a new century," Satz told the graduates. "Too many Americans are oblivious to events taking place in their own communities, of children who need big brothers and big sisters, of the needs of those less well off than they, and of the prejudice and racism that confront economic, ethnic, religious and other minorities."
Satz asked that graduates remember their responsibilities to their loved ones, their community, to society and to the nation so that they will all in some way be better off because of their presence and contributions.
"After all, the final measure of an individual's accomplishments is not how much money or goods she or he has accumulated but how much his or her life has touched others," Satz said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: Aug. 19, 1997