On May 19th, responding to campus protests over his selection as commencement speaker, conservative editor and commentator William F. Buckley Jr. withdrew his acceptance.  In a letter to President Smith, a copy of which he sent to The New York Times, Buckley said, “The majority of the senior class of Vassar does not desire my company and I must confess, having read specimens of their thought and sentiments, that I do not desire the company of the majority of the senior class at Vassar.”  Calling Vassar students “a fearfully ill-instructed body,” Buckley noted that “I have spoken, I suppose, at 500 colleges and universities in the past 30 years and nowhere have I encountered that blend of ferocious illiteracy.”

Retiring Professor of Biology Francis V. Ranzoni and senior class President Alan Phillips ‘80 spoke at the May 25th Commencement, to which, under their commencement robes, a number of seniors wore T-shirts proclaiming themselves as “ferocious illiterates.”