Oklahoma State University Students Plan Demonstration During Bush Commencement Address

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Student members of Oklahoma State University's Young Democrats are organizing a protest on May 6 during the commencement ceremony at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where President George W. Bush will be speaking. The event will run from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

A broad coalition of Oklahoma State University students and graduating seniors are organizing a protest on May 6 during the commencement ceremony in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where President George W. Bush will be speaking. The event will run from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Amanda Wilkerson, political science graduate student at Oklahoma State University explained the protestors' position, saying, "This administration has consistently lied to the people they are supposed to be representing and protecting. We are doing this on behalf of all Americans, because they deserve an honest, accountable government."

Student organizers Holly Licht and John McLaughlin have rallied support for the demonstration from students, Stillwater residents, and individuals around the state who are concerned about issues ranging from Bush's stance on the environment and cuts in social programs to the American military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. McLaughlin asserted, “We want to show the majority in the country and world that we stand with them in solidarity against the dangerous and harmful policies of the Bush administration.”

Pat Piety, a local peace activist who plans to attend the demonstration stated, "We're a group of individuals concerned with world peace. History has shown us that war is not the answer." Piety and other anti-war activists who plan to attend the demonstration have been staging a weekly peace vigil on the county courthouse lawn since last November.

The planned demonstration has drawn opposition from those concerned the protest will interfere with commencement exercises. The organizers respond: "This is not an effort to disrupt or disturb the commencement or graduation. This is one of few opportunities to express our concerns directly to the President in a peaceful fashion without causing a major disruption in the graduates’ events."

The protest will be held outside of Boone Pickens Stadium, named for T. Boone Pickens, who gave a $165 million contribution to build new sports facilities at Oklahoma State University in the single largest donation made to a U.S. collegiate athletic program - another source of controversy in this town of 40,000. The university plans to acquire and raze surrounding neighborhoods in order to build an "athletic village." Pickens is a financial supporter of President Bush.

Organizers reiterate, "The protest is being held on public land and is open to all individuals or groups who are concerned with the direction our country is headed."

For more information, visit the Oklahomans for Democracy homepage at http://www.oklahomansfordemocracy.org.

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John McLaughlin

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