SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - True to its liberal reputation, the University of California, Berkeley, had planned to present graduates with a largely Democratic ticket of commencement speakers.
But a picket by a small group of disgruntled janitors robbed the festivities of their partisan punch when several speakers, including national Democratic Party chairman Howard Dean and state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, refused to cross the line. Some graduation ceremonies were scheduled to go forward without their keynote speakers while some university officials scrambled to find backups.
Nunez backed out of his commitment to address several thousand students at the main undergraduate commencement Wednesday, as 20 janitors picketed outside the Hearst Greek Theatre. Chancellor Robert Birgeneau gave a short, impromptu speech in his place...
Dean decided to cancel his keynote address at the Boalt Hall School of Law commencement on Saturday, but the 2004 presidential candidate tried to make up for his absence by holding an informal gathering with about 100 graduates at a private home Thursday night, said spokesman Luis Miranda.
"An important part of our democracy is the right to organize and the right to picket, and we obviously don't cross picket lines because it's such vital part of the system," Miranda said...
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, also canceled his Sunday speech at an Alumni Association ceremony for graduating scholarship recipients; state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, who's running for lieutenant governor, canceled her Saturday commencement address at the School of Social Welfare; and Assemblywoman Carol Liu, D-Pasadena, decided against speaking Saturday at the Graduate School of Education.
Friday, May 12, 2006
Not A Class Act At All
Whose behavior is worse in this incident, the picketers--who tried and successfully screwed up a university graduation--or the pandering politicians who refused to cross a so-called picket line to fulfill commitments they had made to speak at the commencement?