OSU Students Say Security Is Worth It With Bush As Speaker

By EMILY SWARTZLANDER, Associated Press Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Peter Adams' mother will not be among those cheering him on when he graduates from Ohio State University's Ohio Stadium on Friday. Heightened security because of President Bush's visit as commencement speaker is forcing her to stay home.

Adams, 22, and many OSU students say the security measures are making graduation a frustrating event.

The most upsetting, they say, are the time constraints. Though the event is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m., guests have been told to arrive by 6 a.m. and graduates by 6:30 a.m. University officials said admittance cannot be guaranteed after 8:30 a.m.

Because of health reasons, Adams said his mother cannot sit in the outdoor stadium for the nearly six hours she would need to be there to see him get his psychology degree.

"It's just one of those sacrifices that has to be made," Adams said.

Stephanie LaSalle, who will get a degree in family studies, said her grandmother cannot attend for the same reason.

"This is the only time I'm ever going to graduate, and it's kind of turning into a hassle," said LaSalle, 21.

And Amy Asmus, 22, said some of her Cleveland relatives cannot attend the ceremony because they won't be able to make it to Columbus in time.

"It's really early, and it seems almost unnecessary," said Asmus, who will get her degree in engineering psychics. "I don't understand why we have to be there three hours early to go through metal detectors."

Students requested that Bush speak and that commencement move back to Ohio Stadium, where it was held before renovations began in 1999, said William Hall, OSU's vice president for student affairs.

The ceremony has been in the Oval for the past three years.

Security would have been tight regardless of the speaker because of measures put into place after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Hall said.

But Bush's presence adds to the restrictions.

"Given the speaker, there is tight security for obvious reasons," Hall said.

OSU officials have banned parking around Ohio Stadium for the ceremonies.

Unlike previous ceremonies, all guests need tickets, and the 5,500 expected graduates and 40,000 expected guests will have to pass through metal detectors at the stadium and at French Field House, where graduates will gather beforehand. Coolers, backpacks, large handbags, umbrellas and chair-back seats will be prohibited.

LaSalle said she waited more than three hours over two days to get her tickets for the ceremony.

Hall said the hassle of the restrictions don't equal the opportunity to hear Bush speak.

"How many people can remember their commencement speaker? I guarantee you this, everyone will remember this for the rest of their lives," he said.

Hall said concession stands, entertainment and videos on the stadium's scoreboard should help the morning wait go by quickly.

The students agree that hearing Bush speak will be worth it.

"I think it is great that (the speaker) is the president. I think it's a big deal," Asmus said.

Adams agreed.

"It's not very often you get to see the president speaking publicly," he said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)