UNC students start petition against NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's commencement address

If some students had their way, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg would have his invitation to speak at UNC’s commencement revoked.

During the past few days, a small group of students has produced a petition to prevent Bloomberg from giving the May commencement address.

The petition, addressed to both Chancellor Holden Thorp and the commencement committee, was published Tuesday on change.org.

The petition states that Bloomberg’s decision to use police force to expel Occupy Wall Street protestors from Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15 was unnecessary, making him an unsuitable speaker.

“Bloomberg represents the oppressive nature of the intersection of capital wealth and government that the Occupy movement is rejecting,” the petition states.

As of Wednesday night, more than 100 people had signed the online petition.

Senior Kari Dahlgren, who is involved with the Occupy movement, said she first proposed the idea for the petition because she had an ethical problem with Bloomberg as the speaker.

“He does not embody the values of democracy I think the University should support,” Dahlgren said.

But Dr. Ron Strauss, executive associate provost and head of the commencement committee, said UNC has historically not been afraid to host controversial speakers like Bloomberg.

“It offers students an opportunity to learn about, question and challenge different points of view,” Strauss said.

Bloomberg was announced as the commencement speaker in mid-September. He will speak for free.

Senior Laurel Ashton, one of the petition’s supporters, said she knew of people who were unhappy with the selection of Bloomberg since the announcement.

Ashton said Bloomberg’s actions against the Occupy demonstrators seem to have turned many students against him in the last few weeks.

“A darker side of Bloomberg was revealed that day,” Ashton said.

Dahlgren said she plans to start promoting the petition around campus later this week.

“We need to solidify our support before we get the administration involved,” Dahlgren said.

Despite their efforts, Junior Alanna Davis, who posted the petition, said she doesn’t foresee getting Bloomberg’s invitation revoked.

“We got the problem out in the public sphere,” Davis said.

Dahlgren said she plans to email the petition to Thorp before Dec. 17.

Contact the University Editor at university@dailytarheelcom.

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