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Students, faculty protest Cheney visit

Sheila Flynn | Friday, October 10, 2003

Approximately 100 protesters lined both sides of Juniper Road Thursday, waving signs and shouting chants against Bush administration policies as Vice President Dick Cheney spoke inside the Joyce Center for a fundraising luncheon.

“I’m here because the Cheney-Bush administration continues to mislead Americans about the war in Iraq and about who will profit from it,” said Notre Dame English professor Valerie Sayers, who participated in the event.

“Cheney and his pals stand to make millions in Iraq, while American soldiers die and the Iraqi people continue to suffer,” she said.

Cheney spoke at the $250-per-plate luncheon to raise funds for local Republican Congressman Chris Chocola. The event was not sponsored by Notre Dame, which simply rented space in the JACC to Chocola’s campaign.

Protesters met at the Clarke Memorial Fountain at 10 a.m., and then marched across God Quad and South Quad as a number of students looked on in surprise. Members of a social psychology class, observing the protests for an assignment, said they did not think many Notre Dame students were aware of the anti-Cheney campaign.

“Our teacher just told us about it,” said freshman Jaclyn Riffert, who said she would not have otherwise known the protests were taking place, despite posters and other advertisements. “It’s kind of offending me. I’m a Bush fan.”

Other Bush fans – members of the College Republicans who volunteered to work at the event – stood outside the JACC before Cheney’s speech, holding signs supporting Bush/Cheney for 2004. They said that, although they did not agree with the protesters’ views, they supported their decision to protest.

“I think it’s a good way to express their first amendment rights,” said sophomore Sturges Lochridge.

Protesting groups included the Progressive Student Alliance, the Peace Coalition and Women’s Action for New Directions WAND, whose members wore yellow hazardous material suits on which were printed the words “Hunt for WMD [weapons of mass destruction].”

The majority of protestors said their man goal was not to elicit a response from Cheney, but rather to show that Americans are discontent with administration policies.

“I think it can show that, even at a fairly conservative school like this; I think there are a lot of people that are really mad,” said sociology graduate student Matt Larner.