PROVO, Utah -- The invitation extended to Vice President Dick Cheney to be the commencement speaker at Brigham Young University has set off a rare, continuing protest at the Mormon university, one of the nation's most conservative.
Some of the faculty and the 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, who are overwhelmingly Republican, have expressed concern about the Bush administration's support for the war in Iraq and other policies, but most of the current protest has focused on Cheney's integrity, character and behavior. Several students said, for example, that they were appalled at Cheney's use of an expletive on the Senate floor in a June 2004 exchange with Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.
"The problem is this is a morally dubious man," said Andrew Christensen, a 22-year-old Republican from Salt Lake City.
Students and faculty at Brigham Young - a private university sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - are expected to adhere to an honor code, which emphasizes "being honest, living a chaste and virtuous life, abstaining from alcohol and tobacco, using clean language" and following church doctrines.
In the two weeks since the university announced that Cheney would be the speaker at the commencement on April 26, hundreds of students have attended respectful and quiet campus demonstrations about his presence, and some 3,600 students and alumni had signed petitions by yesterday afternoon seeking a "more appropriate" replacement speaker.