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STUDENT VIEW: Sacramento Bee Publisher Booed During Her College Graduation Speech
Mon Dec 17 2001 12:54:18 ET

Mr. Drudge,

I thought you might like a students perspective on the speech at Arco Arena on Saturday.

I was an international student walking at the commencement ceremony at California State University in Sacramento.

I was sitting with the students as Ms. Besler Heaphy spoke. Her speech was highly inappropriate for a commencement.

As graduating students, we expected something that was motivational, something to inspire us in our future. This was not what we got. We got preached to about her own thoughts on the United States war on terrorism.

I am not saying that I agree or disagree with the content of her speech, rather that it was inappropriate for the place where she was delivering it.

Just as she started speaking about racial profiling, the crowd (not the students at this stage) erupted, there was booing and hissing, screaming of "hurry up" or "get her off". Then the students began speaking amongst themselves about how she had wrecked their commencement.

When the noise became unbearable, President Gerth stood up, and told the crowd to be quiet and respect what she had to say. Some people clapped.

Then she continued to question United States war policy. Now the crowd went wild. People started stomping their feet on the ground, and booing, and the students began calling out. People were even leaving the complex. It was a disgrace. She then said "thank you" and sat down. The crowd screamed for joy as she left the podium.

President Gerth then said to the crowd, that this was the students day, and then everyone cheered. He also said that he would never forget this day, and that was a bad thing!

She destroyed our day as students, and for her to say: "This was a message about civil liberties and our acceptance of differing points of view in American society . . . It's a message that needs to continue to be heard." This is a disgrace - you do not need to say it on our special day.

I hope this helps in your coverage of this story.

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