Bush's Furman visit is opposed by some

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COLUMBIA --- More than 200 Furman University students and faculty members are objecting to the school's first visit by a sitting U.S. president, criticizing the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war and environmental issues.

President Bush is scheduled to give the graduation speech May 31 at this fairly conservative school of 2,625 undergraduate students.

Earlier this month, 222 students and faculty members signed and posted on the school's Web site a statement that outlines objections to the visit. The statement cites the war in Iraq and the administration's "obstructing progress on reducing greenhouse gases while favoring billions in tax breaks and subsidies to oil companies."

"We are ashamed of the actions of this administration. The war in Iraq has cost the lives of over 4,000 brave and honorable U.S. military personnel," they wrote. "Because we love this country and the ideals it stands for, we accept our civic responsibility to speak out against these actions that violate American values."

The school said the event would mark the first time a sitting president has visited the school in its 182-year history. Some protesters said they will skip the Bush speech entirely; others said they plan to attend, perhaps wearing arm bands in protest.

Spokesman Blair Jones said Monday that the White House supports the protesters' rights to speak their mind.

"The cornerstone of our democracy is the right of the American people to peacefully express their views," he said. "The purpose of the president's visit is to congratulate and wish the graduates well as they finish one chapter in their lives and begin the next."

Furman President David Shi released a statement saying the university supported its members' rights to speak their minds.

The campus community is preparing for several events leading up to the president's visit. A seven-part lecture series, "Assessing the Bush Presidency," is set to begin Thursday, and some students who signed the statement are organizing a public reading of the names of U.S. troops killed in Iraq.

Bioethics professor Carmela Epright said she helped get the effort going after the visit was announced, sending an e-mail to professors she felt were in sync with her political views. Some students also took up the cause, but not all supported the notion.

"We underwent a tremendous amount of criticism, with students saying, 'Don't you dare ruin my graduation,' " Ms. Epright said, adding that she feels the student body is perhaps more conservative than the professors.

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426Hemi
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426Hemi 05/13/08 - 06:35 am
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I'm ashamed we have idiots in

I'm ashamed we have idiots in so-called "institutions of higher learning" who havn't a clue. Go check out your greener brethren in Olympia, WA and maybe ya'll can have a basket-weaving 101 convention. Yes, sad, but true, "BASKET WEAVING" The rest of the cirriculum is about as intellligent. They're called "Greeners" because they behave like blades of grass-just wavering without much substance, and ranting about all the greenhouse gases and such. Oh, and wearing hemp hats and jewelry. Ya'll wear hemp and crap like that too? Get a REAL education-JOIN THE MILITARY!

KSL
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KSL 05/13/08 - 11:01 pm
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Thankfully it is only 200+

Thankfully it is only 200+ students and faculty out of 2625 students and some faculty members who are objecting. In 1965, the start of my freshman year in college, protests were virtually unheard of (nationally speaking). I got to hear Teddy Kennedy come to my college and JUSTIFY THE WAR IN VIET NAM! And well that professor organizing the protest shouldn't ruing the graduation for the students. Maybe she just ought to find another institution to work at or wear ear plugs if she doesn't want to listen to the speaker.

Moon Puppy
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Moon Puppy 05/26/08 - 07:48 pm
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Freedom of Speech as long as

Freedom of Speech as long as you're in 100% agreement with everything the faculty dictates to be worthy of discussion.

mikeemorris
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mikeemorris 05/31/08 - 07:10 am
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I'm ashamed that we have

I'm ashamed that we have people in this country like the posters above who criticize and condemn other people for expressing their beliefs. Furthermore, the same people have no interest in expressing their own views on the topics at hand but simply calling others stupid and unable to make their own minds. Then, they offer that the military is the place to get an education. That is where they teach "Blind Obedience," NOT critical thinking skills. Speaking out for what you believe in takes courage and resolve. Doing exactly what you have been trained to do without questioning is precisely why Bush is in office in the first place. Moreover, no one can say that the issues in question here are not valid. So, this is what you get. People criticizing others who have the INTELLIGENCE to know when things aren't right and the COURAGE speak up about it.

KSL
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KSL 05/31/08 - 08:56 am
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They are free to speak their

They are free to speak their beliefs, to protest peacefully, organize rallies, etc. But it is wrong to try to ruin a graduation ceremony. Let them boycott it, though, if they wish.

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