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Sheehan not in line with College mission

Letter to the Editor | Friday, April 13, 2007

As an alumna of Saint Mary’s College, I was ashamed to read the story, “Anti-war activist to speak,” in the April 12 issue of The Observer. I was disappointed to learn the College had extended an invitation to Cindy Sheehan to speak Thursday morning. I continue to find her behavior and conduct disrespectful and undeserving of Saint Mary’s support.

While I admit I am no enthusiast of Sheehan’s views on the war in Iraq, I have real reservations over the manner in which she has chosen to protest this war in Iraq. Please do not misunderstand my position. I believe in the First Amendment. I believe in the right of every citizen to question her government. These are values of our American democracy. Nevertheless, Sheehan has routinely abused those rights.

First and foremost, she continues to misrepresent the war through false facts while casting unwarranted aspersions upon those who fundamentally disagree with her. She has been arrested on numerous occasions due to unlawful protests across the United States and the world. The most despicable of these being her 2006 attempt to wear an anti-war T-shirt in to the gallery of the U.S. House of Representatives during President Bush’s annual State of the Union Address. As she most certainly knew or should have known, protesting in this chamber is not allowed. Her actions were disrespectful and political in nature. There is a time and a place for this type of activity. This certainly was not the time.

I am disappointed that my alma mater chose to allow Sheehan to speak on campus. There are certainly many other scholars and activists who disagree with the war that would have been a better alternative than her. She is not someone who the College should be so willing to be affiliated with as her avenues of protest are not valued in the College’s mission.

During her visit, Sheehan received an overwhelming amount of support from official entities of the College, including the Center for Women’s Inter-Cultural Leadership (CWIL), the Women’s Resource Center, Peacemakers and Justice Education. These organizations, funded by grant money and student tuition, should not be sponsoring such a high-profile, politically-driven visit. That should have been left solely to the College Democrats or other politically-affiliated clubs on campus. Would the CWIL – or the other groups – ever sponsor a visit by a supporter of the Iraq war, or even just a conservative, to speak on campus? From my four years spent at Saint Mary’s, I have my doubts.

If the goal of Sheehan’s visit was to allow students the opportunity to participate in democracy and to aid Saint Mary’s women in becoming informed citizens, then Saint Mary’s should be as willing to invite an alternative viewpoint to argue the other side. I’ll be waiting.

Sarah Vabulas

alumna

Class of 2006

Saint Mary’s College

April 12

The writer is a former Viewpoint

editor for The Observer