September 7, 2004

Students Protest, Volunteer At Republican Convention

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Just two days into the fall semester, a number of Cornell students skipped class in favor of making their presence known at the 2004 Republican National Convention last week in New York City. These students are active members in the Cornell political community and attended the RNC to promote their organizations’ ideologies as protestors or supporters.

Political views aside, student participants agreed that both protestors and supporters were non-violent and well organized. “It’s irresponsible to promise someone they’re not going to get arrested at an event of this magnitude, but if you keep your head up and follow the directions of police, chances are you’re going to be safe,” said Patrick Young, President of Cornell Organization for Labor Action (COLA).

Approximately 35 Cornell students and 75 Tompkins County residents marched alongside tens of thousands of protestors on August 29 in New York City. Those protesting represented several Cornell student groups, among them Students for John Kerry, COLA and Turn Left.

“We are always convinced there are two types of people, conservative and liberal, and to witness all these types of people working together, it allows you to see, to understand and embrace alternative ideologies,” said Young.

Transportation to the event was provided for a nominal fee through No RNC Ithaca, a local anti-Bush organization. Student organizations such as Bush Must Go and Cornell for Peace and Justice agreed to underwrite transportation costs if too few tickets were sold, but by departure date an increase in sales required the acquisition of an additional bus.

While protestors concerned themselves with voicing their grievances with the current Republican administration, a number of other Cornell students made the trip to New York in support of President Bush and the conservative platform.

Victoria Sears ’05, a member of Cornell College Republicans, volunteered throughout the convention with the Committee on Arrangements of Volunteer Programs (COAVP). Her responsibilities included seating the disabled, checking the credentials of attendees and working the VIP congressional entrance.

“Cornell is such a liberal atmosphere that it was refreshing to see so many people truly enthusiastic about our president,” said Sears.

Courtney Demartini, also a member of CCR, worked in Gov. Pataki’s press office throughout the week. Demartini, along with others, felt the convention was extremely well run and the speeches by President George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) and Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) were effective.

Members of CCR, who wanted to attend the RNC but were unable to do so because of class, employment and other obligations, gathered Thursday evening at the Statler Hotel to watch the Presidential speech.

“Bush’s speech was a great balance of concrete policy proposals for the second term, full of self-deprecating humor. The 9-11 references were very touching, and his comments about John Kerry were right on,” said Michael Lepage, president of CCR.

“It was probably the best speech he’s ever given in office,” he added.

Democrats disagree.

“The President’s speech in my opinion was very ambiguous. There was no detail about agenda for the second term, just fluff. Basically he’s doing what we’ve been saying all along.

He’s relying on 9-11 and the war in Iraq to distract from the real issues like healthcare, wages and employment,” commented Tim Lim, president of Cornell Democrats.

Despite the fact that the opposing parties do not see eye to eye on a number of issues all of those Cornell students involved in the convention expressed gratitude for the privilege to be involved in such a significant event.

Archived article by Annie Ceccarini
Sun Staff Writer