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May 30, 2014

Michael Bloomberg delivers his speech at Harvard's commencement.(Jon Chase/Harvard College).

Former mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg advised Harvard University graduates “to do a better job of promoting tolerance of diverse ideas.”

On Thursday, Bloomberg delivered Harvard’s commencement address and cited incidents where students have shouted down speakers on campus and elsewhere. 

“No matter how strongly we may disagree with another’s viewpoint, tolerance for other people’s ideas and the freedom to express your own are inseparable values at great universities,” Bloomberg said. “Joined together, they form a sacred trust that holds the basis for our democratic society.”

Watch Bloomberg’s commencement speech:

Some students had questioned the choice of Bloomberg as a speaker, citing his “stop and frisk” police policy while he was mayor. Many others defended his right to speak.

Opposition to commencement speakers spiked this year, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education published a report tracking "disinvitations." The Foundation found demands that invitations be rescinded increased from six in 2000 to 29 in 2013. 

"The desire to silence speakers on campus is strong - and disturbingly, 'disinvitations' are becoming more common," said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff.

One thing there was no controversy about was Aretha Franklin singing the national anthem during Harvard's commencement ceremonies. The Queen of Soul brought down the house:

Of course, getting the message just right on graduation day can be tough. Earlier this month, WGBH's On Campus explored what goes into finding the perfect commencement speaker:

higher ed, commencement, Harvard, tolerance, increasing access and success, free speech

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