Only small protest greets Bush at S. Carolina's Furman U.

GREENVILLE, S.C. — President Bush on Saturday told more than 600 Furman University graduates to remain engaged citizens and bolster traditional values — all while 14 members of the university faculty stood in silent protest.

The faculty members wore white T-shirts that said “We Object,” a reflection on Bush’s leadership in the Iraq war and his environmental policy. Only a few graduates made similar small statements: a white armband or a dove clutching an olive branch outlined on a mortarboard.

Bush’s appearance at the graduation of 637 undergraduates and 14 master’s candidates spurred much debate since it was announced in early April. About 200 faculty and students soon after signed a letter criticizing Bush’s handling of the Iraq war and environmental issues. In response, more than 700 members of the Furman community, about half of them students, signed a letter asking that professors not be allowed to skip the ceremony in protest.

The debate spilled over in letters to the editor in the local newspaper, as well as the American flags and signs welcoming the president held by hundreds lining the route to campus. On campus, about 30 protesters greeted the president. About 30 faculty members didn't show up for the ceremony.

Political science graduate Jason Reddick of Sumter said the talk about Bush's speech was much ado about nothing. "It basically made my graduation," Reddick said.

Read the full story at