( – promoted by Clark)

A student led movement at Truman State University urges individuals attending former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s commencement speech on campus May 9 to refrain from applause in order to demonstrate disapproval of Ashcroft’s reception of an honorary degree on behalf of TSU.

University officials have announced that Ashcroft will be awarded an honorary Doctorate degree in recognition of his role in changing TSU into a statewide public liberal arts and sciences university in 1985, as the Governor of the state of Missouri.  However, the Board of Governor’s decision to grant Ashcroft the award came with minimal faculty and student input.

Students and faculty members opposed to the award believe that Ashcroft’s image and actions as a public servant in the offices of Governor of Missouri, U.S. Senator from Missouri, and the U.S. Attorney General do not reflect the mission or values of the University. The group, “Don’t Applaud Ashcroft,” also believes it is not enough for Ashcroft to have signed a bill into law which changed the University’s mission.

Ashcroft has not demonstrated the values Truman students and alumni cherish- having authorized a classified memo allowing for the “First Amendment speech and press rights” to be subordinated in order to “wage war successfully.” In addition to allowing for the suppression of first amendment rights, Ashcroft also played a substantial role as the U.S. Attorney General in authorizing and justifying harsh interrogation methods used against detainees, asserting that former President Bush had a virtually unlimited ability to detain, interrogate, transfer or prosecute enemy combatants as part of the war on terror.

The latter action is now the focus of Congressional hearings, investigations, and intense media scrutiny. Students and faculty do not want their university to be associated with such behaviors from a public servant.

The group, “Don’t Applaud Ashcroft,” asks audience members attending Ashcroft’s  speech to stand in solidarity by not clapping at the conclusion of the speech in order to cause minimal disruptions to the graduation ceremony. Instead of applauding, the group asks that audience members hold up a copy of the University paper featuring the signatures of those who signed a letter expressing their disagreement with Ashcroft’s reception of the award. Papers will be available at the entrance to the ceremony.

For more information about “Don’t Applaud Ashcroft” as well as information about John Ashcroft’s career, visit Don’t Applaud John Ashcroft. The group is also on Facebook.