LATROBE, PA — The normally tranquil campus in the lush hills of western Pennsylvania has been riveted by a lively discussion over whether the choice of Bush as graduation speaker was appropriate in light of the school’s peaceful Benedictine traditions and the president’s policy in Iraq.
Ronny Menzie chose to join a protest on the road to the college instead of standing with her fellow graduates. “I didn’t finish my thesis because I didn’t want my graduation with him,” said Menzie, 35, a philosophy major. “I think it’s a blight, an embarrassment on a Catholic college.” Some 30 current and former faculty members wrote an open letter criticizing Bush on the war, the environment, the poor and the sick and saying that “linking the school to your administration would irreparably tarnish Saint Vincent.”
Outside, about 150 people demonstrated, given encouragement by some drivers who cheered and honked as they passed. “I object to the president being here and speaking to the graduates of Saint Vincent. I don’t think philosophically he stands for what the students of the campus stand for,” said Tom Koziatek, 68, a 1960 graduate of Saint Vincent. Iraq war veteran Jonas Merrill, 25, said he drove 90 minutes from his home in Cumberland, Md. to protest Bush’s arrival and the ongoing war in Iraq. “We’re fighting for the guys still over there,” he said.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: War & Peace