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Top Pa. Lawmaker Says Penn State Should Bar Payment to Vietnam-Era Activist, Later a Professor of Education

By Jim Melwert

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (CBS) -- A Pennsylvania state senator is objecting to a speaker scheduled to make two appearances this week on the campus of Pennsylvania State University.

Bill Ayers is co-founder of the "Weather Underground," an anti-war group that took credit for several bombings in the late 1960s to protest US involvement in the Vietnam War.  He went on to become a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a confidant of President Barack Obama.

In response to the bookings at Penn State, Joseph Scarnati, state senate president pro tempore in the Pennsylvania Legislature, says he has sent a letter to Penn State president Eric Barron, "basically objecting to the fact that they're having a known domestic terrorist being sponsored by taxpayer dollars speaking at Penn State."

Penn State says in a statement that the invitations to Ayers came from student organizations, paid for by student activity fees.

But Scarnati argues that no matter how they justify the accounting, in the end it comes from the same pot of money.

"He's welcome to go to Penn State and speak anywhere he wants, but should he be paid?" Scarnati wonders aloud.  "And why should he be sponsored by the university?"

Ayers is scheduled to be part of a panel discussion on March 19th, at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law.  That event is sponsored by the Law and Education Alliance at Penn State.  The other event, March 20th, is being put on by the Curriculum and Instruction Graduate Student Association.



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