Two Bowdoin students were ejected from President Bush's campaign appearance in Bangor yesterday on suspicion that they planned to protest inside the event. Another Bowdoin student, who worked at the event, was involved in the removal.
Bree Dallinga '06, co-president of the Bowdoin College Democrats, and Ashley Cusick '05, both self-described liberals, said they planned to attend the event to observe and possibly protest by wearing anti-Bush t-shirts. According to Dallinga, after successfully passing through security, Dan Schuberth '06 spotted the two students and requested their removal from the event.
Chris Averill, executive director of the Maine College Republicans, said Schuberth played a role in the ejection. Averill said, as head of volunteers at the event, "Schuberth had the discretion to have [potential protesters] checked out by security."
Schuberth, Chairman of the Maine College Republicans, is on leave from Bowdoin this semester to work full-time with the Bush campaign in Maine. The Orient made repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact Schuberth for comment.
Dallinga and Cusick maintain that they did not plan to disrupt the rally. Each wore concealed anti-Bush t-shirts and considered exposing them during the President's speech. However, the two added that they did not intend to verbally interrupt the event.
"I don't want to do something at someone's event that I wouldn't want someone to do at one of my own events," Dallinga said. As a member of the Bowdoin Democrats, she helped plan the Maine College Democrats of America College Convention this weekend.
Dallinga said that upon recognizing his fellow Bowdoin students, Schuberth pointed and said, "Those two. They're not getting in."
Averill remained uncertain as to whether the t-shirts were a factor in the ejection.
"Schuberth saw our faces and had us removed," Dallinga said. "It was impossible for anyone to have known we were wearing the shirts."
According to Cusick, she and Dallinga repeatedly questioned event officials, but did not receive a reason for the ejection.
Cusick said she was upset that after acquiring tickets and passing through security they were turned away. "We made it through security," Cusick said, "but we didn't make it through Schuberth."
Dallinga said the situation was surprising. "I just think it's sad that people of differing opinions aren't allowed to come to a president's speech," she said.
Averill said the expulsion of suspected protesters was justified because during the event, "law enforcement has more important things to worry about."
"People came to see the president, hear his message, and enjoy their time there," Averill said. He also said that he feels protesting has no place in a presidential rally. "There are designated places where people are able to protest."
The Bush campaign keeps tight control over election events by exclusively admitting supporters of the president to rallies.
"Free speech zones" have been provided for protests, yet protesters complain that the zones are too far away from event venues. The Secret Service insists that security considerations, not political concerns, govern its decisions.
-Adam Baber and Brian Dunn contributed to this report.