__Campus split over decision to invite Cheney as commencement speaker__
p. Students, alumni and members of the Mormon Church are protesting Brigham Young University’s decision to invite Vice President Dick Cheney to speak at the school’s commencement later this month. Cheney has accepted and is set to deliver a non-political speech. He also plans to speak at the commencement of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point May 26.
p. The traditionally conservative school is located in Utah County where, according to Time Magazine and CNN, 85 percent of residents voted for President Bush and Cheney in 2004. This protest is anomalous for the school where a professor was fired last year for writing an opinion article criticizing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for advocating a constitutional ban on gay marriage. BYU’s honor code includes provisions that students may not engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, must abstain from drugs, alcohol, coffee and tea and should actively participate in religious services.
p. Cheney critics highlight his involvement in the CIA leak of Valerie Wilson’s identity, past association with Saddam Hussein’s government and role in using faulty evidence to spur U.S. invasion of Iraq. The New York Times quoted Warner Woodworth, BYU professor, as saying, “It just feels like too much sleaze and not the right values for BYU. We espouse honesty, chastity, integrity, ethics, virtue and morality, and he does not epitomize those values.”
p. Woodworth is a key organizer of an online petition that gathered 2,300 signatures in its first week and asks BYU to replace Cheney with a different speaker. There is also a counter-petition that supports Cheney with over 2,000 signatures.
BYU has approved the College Democrats’ request to protest at commencement and is in the process of allotting a specific space.