Students to Protest at Bush’s Inauguration

(michigan-daily)/" class="creditline">Laura Van Hyfte
For the Daily
(Michigan Daily)

For many student Democrats, election night was painful, surprising and difficult to endure.

Currently, Republicans are the dominating force in the national government — President Bush has been re-elected, Republicans hold the majority in Congress and conservative Justices dominate the Supreme Court.

While some students celebrated Bush’s victory over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on Nov. 2, others have already begun to mobilize a protest at his inauguration ceremony in Washington.

Most organizations’ focus now is getting to Washington for the Jan. 19 ceremony.

Students for Progress, a liberal activism group founded in response to the 2004 election, plan to bus students to the nation’s capital for the inauguration.

University alum Paul Denning, the Students for Progress chair, said the group wants to give students the opportunity to protest Bush’s victory.

“There will be many nonviolent demonstrations which people could potentially participate in while in D.C., so we will supply visitors with information on those events,” Denning said.

He added that protesting can be constructive, and that Students for Progress does not plan on being disruptive or violent. Students for Progress mainly wishes to hold a positive forum where people can discuss different issues, plan for action and devise responses to the government’s issues, he said.

“Basically, we want to unite progressive-minded people. We want to emphasize that this is a positive thing. We want to look beyond just protesting,” Denning said.

College Democrats are also planning to protest in Washington. Currently, they are planning for independent modes of transportation to the inauguration, said Libby Benton, vice president of College Democrats.

Benton, an LSA junior, added that creating tension and irritation is not their intent while at the inauguration.

“I think that there is a lot of emotional energy right now, held by students who worked hard on the campaign. Going to the inauguration (and protesting) is a way to bring students together and show a positive presence. We plan on being peaceful,” Benton said.

College Democrats and Students for Progress said they see protesting as a means of engaging in democracy.

“Nothing is more patriotic than voicing your opinion in democracy,” Benton said.

College Republicans will also be attending the ceremony to relish in their candidate’s victory.

College Republicans First Chair Kathleen Philippart said Democrats and Students for Progress have the right to assemble and oppose the government.

“They’re entitled to their opinion and freedom of expression,” said Philippart, an LSA junior.