The News Service
The 236th Commencement
President Simmons: “A woman of uncommon integrity is in our midst”
Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, an outspoken advocate for human rights and the rights of women in Iran, delivered the baccalaureate address Sunday afternoon, May 30, 2004, in the First Baptist Meeting house. Ebadi spoke in Farsi with simultaneous translation into English and a video simulcast to The College Green. A mistranslation of spontaneous remarks early in Ebadi’s address disturbed some listeners. President Ruth Simmons set the record straight during the College Commencement Ceremony Monday, May 31. The President’s remarks follow here.
There are few times in these proceedings that we break protocol, but this morning I feel it is imperative that we do so. Before going on with the exercises, I want to take a moment to correct an error that occurred yesterday during the translation of Ms. Shirin Ebadi's baccalaureate address from Farsi to English. Ms. Ebadi was deeply moved by the Baccalaureate Ceremony and the diversity of faiths and traditions represented in the readings and music here in this beautiful Meeting House. In that spirit, she departed from her prepared text and, near the beginning of her remarks, her interpreter misspoke in English what she had said in Farsi.
Ms. Ebadi spoke passionately in her address – and last evening at another occasion – of the value of diverse faiths and of tolerance in the search for peace and the worldwide struggle for human rights. I want to share with you what she actually said, because it is a message that is so appropriate in these times and at this time of your Commencement.
I thank you, Ms. Ebadi, and I thank our own Professor William Beeman for translating your words so that the entire Brown community may know that a woman of uncommon valor and integrity is in our midst.