PSO will protest Albright, not graduates

The Progressive Student Organization would like to congratulate all graduating seniors for the efforts that have brought them this far. As fellow students, we know how hard it is to balance school with work and family responsibilities. We are proud of you.
We in the Progressive Student Organization are angry with the administration for allowing Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to speak at graduation. Albright’s statements, actions and policies have killed real people. She vehemently upholds a U.S. policy that has killed 1.7 million Iraqis in less than eight years. This number increases each day, and yet seemingly without remorse she continues to advocate genocidal policies.
Albright supports military regimes like Suharto’s in Indonesia, where U.S.-trained death squads have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. With the help of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Structural Adjustment Programs, Suharto, and now Habibie, keep food and energy prices in Indonesia on the rise. We must make it clear that there is opposition to the policies that the Secretary of State advocates and that U.S.-backed sanctions on countries such as Iraq, Cuba and Puerto Rico must be lifted.
We demand equal time for democratic debate. Commencement should not be used as a platform for foreign policy. Albright has any and every opportunity to speak about U.S. foreign policy. She has the ability through the media to get her message across without dialogue and discussion. If any violation of free speech occurs, it is through this act and none other. We feel that it is our moral responsibility to let Albright and the administration she works for know that we do not agree with their policies and that we will not allow them to continue to speak their message without a democratic dialogue. Albright’s speech will not be a dialogue, and her message has nothing to do with the hard work and respectable accomplishments of graduating seniors.
Disagreement with the choice of speaker for graduation does not come solely from the PSO; faculty members have also expressed concern about Albright’s speaking engagement. It is through debate that democracy is accomplished. A debate that would engage two or more people should be set up for the community, where there would also be the opportunity to ask questions from the floor.
We will be leading a rally outside of Williams Arena, where there will be speakers and literature in opposition to genocidal, discriminatory and exploitative U.S. foreign policies. We will not disrespect commencement ceremonies. In fact, we feel that Madeleine Albright is disrespecting graduating seniors by using this opportunity to address you; not for your achievements, but rather to advertise U.S. foreign policy in the form of a monologue. Anyone who believes in the statement “by and for the people” should attend this rally.
We encourage all graduating seniors to show her that this is inappropriate, in any way you see fit. Armbands, signs, and turning around while she is speaking are all things that can be done to signify disagreement. We hope that you also find it to be your moral obligation to show her that what brings her to our campus is inappropriate. Actions that result in the deaths of millions cannot be condoned. To stand in silence does just that.
Jen Udelhofen, a CLA junior, and Gina Lazar, a CLA freshman, are members of the Progressive Student Organization. They welcome contact from interested parties by phone at 626-7099 or by e-mail at [email protected]