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Mayor Bloomberg to Harvard Grads: ‘Do Not Follow the Crowd’

Cambridge, MA - 05/29/14 - Michael Bloomberg listens as Aretha Franklin performs the national anthem at Harvard commencement in the Tercentenary Theatre of Harvard Yard. Lane Turner/Globe Staff Section: METRO Reporter: Roy Greene Slug: 30harvard
Michael Bloomberg listened as Aretha Franklin performed “The National Anthem” at Harvard commencement in the Tercentenary Theatre of Harvard Yard.LANE TURNER/ GLOBE

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered the 363rd commencement address at Harvard University today, where he urged graduates to fight political partisanship and to push for the free exchange of ideas.

Bloomberg got his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School in 1966. He then went on to “build an information technology company into a global news and financial information service” known as Bloomberg LP before serving three terms as mayor of NYC.

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Here are some nuggets of advice Bloomberg gave to Harvard grads:

1. On the spirit of democracy: “Tolerance for other people’s ideas and the freedom to express your own are inseparable values at universities.”

2. On freedom of expression:“Repressing free expression is a natural human weakness and it is up to us to fight it at every turn.”

3. On political partisanship: “No party has a monopoly of truth or God on their side...Great universities must not become predictably partisan. Their role is not to provide ideology, but to provide students a neutral forum for study.”

4. On Brandeis University, Haverford College, Rutgers University, and Smith College students rejecting commencement speakers with unpopular political views: “In each case, liberals silenced a voice and denied an honorary degree to individuals they considered not politically acceptable. This is an outrage.”

5. On Washington, D.C.: “Two parties decide policy by shouting each other down and undermining research that counters their goals.”

6. On guns being called a medical epidemic: “86 Americans are killed with guns every single day. It would almost be medical malpractice to say anything else.”

7. On government cuts to scientific research: “The federal government is flunking science just as many state governments are. We must not become a country that turns its back on science.”

8. On being non-conformists: “Do not follow the crowd.”

9. On being good people: “Stand up for the rights of others.”

10. On how grads should celebrate: “Have one last scorpion at ‘The Kong,’ but tomorrow, get back to work at making this country great.”

“I know this is not a typical commencement speech, but there is no easy time to say hard things,” Bloomberg said.

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