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Protestors demonstrate against Bush’s visit

Hanna, Maddie | Friday, March 4, 2005

With chants of “We won’t wait until 2008” and “Privatization hurts our nation,” hundreds of Notre Dame students and members of the South Bend community gathered outside the Joyce Center Friday to protest President’s Bush visit to Notre Dame.”We feel Bush makes us insecure,” said Stephanie Gharakhanian, co-president of Notre Dame Peace Coalition. “His Social Security proposal is emblematic of a greater trend in his policies.”According to Gharakhanian, Bush has failed to explain some key aspects of his plan.”He says it’s for our future, but he’s not mentioning that to create private accounts would take $2 trillion,” she said. “We already have the largest deficit in U.S. history – there’s no way we can do this.”Gharakhanian said that with this privatization plan, “Our generation will have higher taxes and lower benefits.”Mike Peterson, co-president of Notre Dame Peace Coalition, said, “We’re out here because Bush is trying to use our campus as a Social Security forum, a platform to promote the destruction of the social contract.”Peterson said that Notre Dame students should be concerned about Bush’s plan.”Especially for us young people, we’re the ones facing the downsides of this,” Peterson said.Junior Alice Bonifield said she felt it was her duty as an active member of the College Democrats to come out and protest.”I think that it’s a little bit sly Bush is coming right before spring break,” Bonifield said. “We need to show a little bit of resistance – he can’t take Notre Dame for granted as a conservative stronghold.”The protestors gathered around Clarke Memorial Fountain [Stonehenge] beginning at 2:30 p.m. and practiced chants until 3, when Peterson, Gharakhanian and head of Progressive Student Alliance Kamaria Porter spoke to rally onlookers.”Bush is speaking today about how he is concerned about our future,” Peterson told the crowd. “If he was concerned about our future, would he be selling our Social Security to Wall Street?”Peterson’s question was met with a resounding “no.”The only opposition to the Stonehenge gathering consisted of three high school juniors and one fifth grade student running around the protestors with signs reading “Trust W, a Man of Character.””We don’t want someone telling lies about our president – we know the truth,” high school junior Valerie Bolyard said.Protesters remained outside the Joyce Center during the president’s speech and resumed loud resistance as attendees streamed out afterward. Several onlookers made a “W” hand gesture in support of Bush; others applauded the protesters.Despite the protestors’ concerns, several students who attended the Bush speech regarded the president more positively.”It was informative and it made a lot of sense,” sophomore Andy Crutchfield said. “I thought he used good examples.”Crutchfield also commented on the power of Bush’s charisma.”I thought it was pretty good,” freshman Christian Medeiros said. “It was impressive – he put forth a good argument for privatization.”However, Medeiros said that Bush could have explained certain aspects of the plan better.”He ignored the issue of how seniors are going to get their benefits without as much money coming in,” Medeiros said. “But he was funny, interesting and engaging, and I liked how he catered to the Notre Dame population at times.”Sophomore Cole Hundt thought Bush could have focused a little more on how the Social Security issue pertained to the younger generation.”I wish he would have geared it more towards how it’s going to affect us as students,” Hundt said.