An announcement Wednesday notifying seniors that they would get only four tickets each to the May 5 graduation exercises sparked low-level panic among students — at least among those who weren’t too busy studying (surely that’s what college seniors are up to, right?) to notice.
Usually, students may invite an unlimited number of guests to the graduation ceremony, which takes place in the university’s football stadium. But the presence of the president and the tightened security that accompanies him — plus, officials tell us, renovations at the stadium and a historically large graduating class that has resulted in greater demand — means all those great-uncles and cousins-twice-removed might not be able to attend the happy occasion.
A university spokeswoman tells us there might be additional tickets later, so students can have a few guests on standby.
We know of at least one would-have-been attendee (with a hotel room already booked) who was notified by her young relative via text message that she might be nixed from his guest list.
Let’s hope all the relatives still send checks.
Foreign aid wins a convert
When he was running for president in 2003 and 2004, then- Sen. John Kerry was giving speeches ripping into President George W. Bush for spending money overseas and allowing “a preparedness gap” in terms of the fight against terrorism.
“We should not be opening firehouses in Baghdad,” he told a crowd in a Roanoke fire station on Feb. 9, 2004, “and shutting them in the United States of America.”
But on Wednesday at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville — about a two-hour drive from Roanoke — Kerry made a pitch for not cutting funds for foreign policy and overseas aid, noting that it’s only a bit more than 1 percent of the overall budget.
And “every embassy, every program that saves a child from dirty drinking water, or from AIDS, or reaches out to build a village, and bring America’s values, every person” comes out of that “one penny plus a bit, on a single dollar.”
So why do people criticize foreign aid spending and think it’s a quarter of the budget?
“Well, I’ll tell you,” he said, according to a State Department transcript, “It’s pretty simple. As a recovering politician [laughter] . . . I can tell you that nothing gets a crowd clapping faster in a lot of places than saying, ‘I’m going to Washington to get them to stop spending all that money over there.’ ”
Sounds as though he’s recovered pretty well.
When our colleague T.W. Farnam reported on all those “cultural exchange” trips that lawmakers and their staffs take, we couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous. The destinations — China, the Alps, Thailand — sounded fantastic, and the sightseeing, eating and souvenir shopping a blast.