Graduating Seniors Get TWO Heads Of State For Commencement Speeches With AM-Bush Bjt
May. 21, 1989
BOSTON (AP) _ Having two heads of state for commencement speakers might seem inspirational to many graduating seniors.
But the presence of President Bush and France's President Francois Mitterrand at Boston University's 116th commencement Sunday dampened the spirits of some of the 5,400 graduates and their friends.
''It means no booze, no beach balls, no fun,'' said Ron Kleiman, 24, a recent BU graduate who yelled to his graduating friends as they walked to their seats.
''We had to throw away the champagne bottles,'' said graduating senior Dave Wheeler, 21, who received a degree in political science. ''But I guess it is worth the trade-off if it means having the president here.''
But if some students were ambivalent about the extraordinary pomp and circumstance surrounding their graduation, many of the more than 30,000 alumni, friends and relatives in the packed audience were thrilled.
Some, like Saul Holtzman, 72, a member of the class of 1939, came from as far away as Albuquerque, N.M., for the ceremony.
''It's great, really exciting,'' said Holtzman, sitting with other members of the 50th reunion class. ''It's a lot different from 50 years ago. (Republican presidential candidate) Alf Landon was our speaker then.''
Adel Anbar, 23, said his parents traveled from the small Persian Gulf nation of Qatar for his graduation when they heard that Bush and Mitterrand were the featured speakers.
''It was a good reason for my parents to come,'' said Anbar.
Bush and Mitterrand, and their wives, Barbara Bush and Danielle Mitterrand, were welcomed with applause and cheers.
The heartiest and most surprising reception was reserved for Gov. Michael S. Dukakis, who, since his failed presidential campaign, has been under siege locally for the state's fiscal crisis.
Some of the students wore peace symbols on their gowns and the words ''Bush Knew'' on their mortar boards. A few held up protest signs when Bush began his address.
''I'm wearing this because Bush knew about the contras, but went ahead and made Oliver North the scapegoat,'' said Claire Connelly, 22, a graduating senior from South Boston. ''It's an imperialist presidency and Bush shouldn't be there.''
Another group of demonstrators handed out leaflets outside the stadium, protesting the policies of the Bush administration.
But most of the students, a number of them holding tiny French and American flags, said they were pleased with the commencement. They often interrupted Mitterrand's speech, cheering his exhortations for environmental protection when he said: ''The Earth is our planet, let us save it.''
''We're pretty glad to have Bush here,'' said graduating senior Joe Curley, 22. ''We're in this with our eyes open. We can't argue too much about the world we are going out into.''
''We're all pretty bourgeois,'' said his friend, Dave Wheeler, who is going on to law school.
Another graduating senior, Mary Hansel, 22, from Rochester, N.Y., said some in her class feared that Bush and Mitterrand would overshadow them.
''But mostly it is exciting. Most people can't believe we are here,'' she said.