Fliers, petition articulate response to Jindal pick
The choice of Governor Bobby Jindal as this year's graduation speaker has one senior wondering if she will attend.
To demonstrate her disapproval, psychology senior Ashley Johnson began circulating a petition March 2 among seniors that demands a new speaker for their commencement ceremony.
"I've gotten some people that are excited about Bobby Jindal speaking, but for the most part, most people are very confused about him as a choice," Johnson said. "The response has been pretty big. I've gotten nothing but faculty support even though I'm only looking for seniors' signatures just to keep it relevant to the cause."
So far, Johnson has collected 80 signatures out of her expected goal of 100.
"(The goal is) just enough to let people know that I'm not the only one not OK with this, and if the change doesn't occur at all, if Bobby Jindal is still the speaker at the graduation ceremony, then I just won't attend," she said.
In addition to the petition, Johnson has posted fliers stating reasons in opposing Jindal as the commencement speaker.
"This has nothing to do with Bobby Jindal as a governor, I'm pretty sure I even voted for him because he's good for Louisiana. But Loyola University is in New Orleans, it's not like the rest of the state of Louisiana. It's a liberal arts institution that supports a lot of things that Gov. Jindal does not agree with," she said.
Johnson's petition, however, has incited a response from students supporting the decision to have him as the speaker. An unsigned flier titled, "No Thank You, Mr. Petition," counters the points in her flier and lists reasons objecting to the petition.
"The idea that Bobby Jindal should be rejected as a speaker displays a fundamental lack of appreciation for open academic discourse," stated the flier.
Student Government president and political science senior Cade Cypriano agrees.
"I think it is academically ignorant and close-minded. The students and the university deserve a high-quality speaker," he said. "To petition to keep open dialogue off of our campus merely because of an ideological difference goes against everything we try to instill in students at Loyola."
"We realize no matter who is chosen as our commencement speaker, there will always be those who disagree with the choice," said Meredith Hartley, director of public affairs, in an official university statement. "However, Loyola University intends to move forward with the chosen speaker as planned. We are proud to have Gov. Bobby Jindal, a Rhodes Scholar and the country's first Indian-American governor, as our 2009 commencement speaker."
Johnson does not think the petition will necessarily create change, but is going through with it regardless.
"I couldn't just let it happen without trying or without speaking out about it," she said. "This is what our education at Loyola has taught us to do. It's to stand up for what you believe in."
Masako Hirsch can be reached at email@example.com.
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