Students object to Massachusetts governor as commencement speaker
April 02 2004 1:00 AM ET
Students at Suffolk University in Boston protested Wednesday as the school administration announced that Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney would be the campus's commencement speaker this spring. Outraged by Romney's opposition to same-sex marriage, students said the governor would make graduating gay and lesbian students uncomfortable. They argued that his opposition to equal marriage rights directly violates the university's nondiscrimination policy. "It's horrible that an openly gay Suffolk senior who's graduating would have to sit and listen to a person who works to deny them their basic rights," Rob Laurent, a junior at the university, told The Boston Globe. "Suffolk is supposed to be a safe place for gays and lesbians. Inviting Governor Romney to speak would just be going back on that in every way possible."
Campus officials confirmed the administration's decision to invite Romney to speak at the May 23 commencement. "Suffolk University is a firm believer in nondiscrimination and, in particular, gay and lesbian rights," said university president David J. Sargent in a statement. "We ask only that people be tolerant and respectful of others' differences."
A spokesman for Romney told the Globe that student protests are expected. "It wouldn't be springtime if college students somewhere weren't protesting the choice of a commencement speaker," said Eric Fehrnstorm. During a campus meeting Wednesday night, some students voiced support for the governor. "I think it's disgusting that students want to silence someone they disagree with," said Brian Powers. "I don't agree with the governor on every issue, including gay marriage, but I think it's an honor that he's willing to come and speak at the university."