PROVO The unauthorized "alternative commencement" planned by Brigham Young University students to take place after Vice President Dick Cheney speaks at BYU's graduation rites found a home Tuesday and then lost it.
Cheney will speak during commencement exercises at 4 p.m. on April 26. The group planning the alternative commencement announced Tuesday that former presidential candidate Ralph Nader would speak at Dixon Middle School at 6:30 p.m. on April 26.
But Provo School District officials quashed the idea of renting the school when they learned about it.
Meanwhile, a local filmmaking company announced it will show two films to help raise Nader's $15,000 speaking fee, and Provo City issued an advisory to organizers of multiple public rallies being planned in the city for Cheney's visit.
School district spokesman Greg Hudnall said the school district wants to avoid protests on its property because it considers them "disruptive to the learning process."
"Many of our schools have been contacted to host protests," he said. "A variety of principals have called to say individuals have called asking to rent our schools. We've turned them down. I am not asking what side the protests are on."
Hudnall said the district has turned down rentals and ended long-term rentals when they have become disruptive. Dixon Middle School has parent centers, where parents come in with students and take classes together or get support, until 7:30 p.m.
"It's just the disruption we're worried about," he said. "And questions like, how do we staff it and what liabilities we face."
The situation is complicated by Provo City's policy not to allow reservation of city parks until May 1. Organizers don't want to schedule an event at a park they can't reserve.
The city's advisory also reminds organizers not to interfere with pedestrians or traffic, to clean up after themselves and if the event might draw more than 300 people to consult the Utah County Health Department. The health department may require organizers to secure a mass gathering permit or large public assembly license.
"The city advisory indicates support for free expression and political debate and recognizes the rights of all citizens to express their opinion in the public forum," the city said in a press release.
To raise funds for the alternative commencement, Shinebox Media Productions will hold a special screening of "This Divided State" at the University Mall Cinemas in Orem Friday at midnight. Doors will open at 11:30 p.m. The documentary follows the flap over the visit of Michael Moore to Utah Valley State College in 2004.
The group will also screen "An Unreasonable Man" at the same time in an adjacent theater. The film looks at Nader's career and was screened at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
The film screenings are free but donations will be accepted to defray costs for the alternative commencement.
Several other rallies are planned. Only one will be allowed on the BYU campus. That demonstration will be sponsored by the College Democrats student club.Off campus, a group of Cheney supporters plan a large rally, and a group seeking the impeachment of President Bush and Cheney is planning a protest in Washington Square in Salt Lake City.
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