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Students React to Clinton Acquittal, Mirror Their National Party's Vie

By Kevin R. Lang
ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

Much like Friday's Senate vote to acquit President Bill Clinton of high crimes and misdemeanors, reactions among MIT's student political groups fell decisively along party lines.

The trial ended when both articles of impeachment failed to garner the necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate. The first article, levying perjury charges against the President, was defeated 45 to 55, while the second, alleging obstruction of justice, ended in a 50 to 50 tie. Immediately following the announcement, members of the MIT College Democrats (MIT-CDS) held a rally in Lobby 7 and a march through the Infinite Corridor.

MIT-CDS member Anna K. Benefiel '00 said that she organized the acquittal demonstration to celebrate the trial's conclusion. "We generated many smiles along the Infinite Corridor Friday afternoon, and someone even leaned over the second floor balcony of Lobby 10 to applaud us," Benefiel said. Signs carried by MIT-CDS members included "The circus has left the building", "Q.E.D.", and "The fat lady has sung."

"We wanted to express our enthusiasm regarding the closure of such an ugly process, which plastered the front pages of newspapers for much too long," said MIT-CDSCo-President Aaron B. Strauss '02. Strauss said that MIT-CDSmembers also wanted to inform students of the trial's outcome.

"Even though the outcome of Friday's vote was preordained," Strauss said, "I, along with many Americans, breathed a sigh of relief." Strauss thought that "the one lesson I believe that Americans learned from these 13 months is the power of the media. The media, at all levels, determines what is public and what is private in people's lives."

The MIT College Republicans were less enthusiastic about Clinton's acquittal. "Although Friday's Senate vote was anticipated, my initial reaction was one of complete disgust," said MITCollege Republicans First Vice-Chairman Jeffrey M. Davis '99. "The Senators' desire to conform to the attitudes expressed in the polls and to protect their public image by conducting a speedy trial' essentially resulted in an abrogation of their Constitutional duty,"Davis said.

"I think from the beginning everyone knew that it wouldn't make it through the Senate," said Christopher M. Spadaccini G. "It would've been silly to think that you could get two-thirds." Spadaccini, who has not been an active member of the College Republicans for some time, said that he was almost glad to hear that the trial was over and thought that the nation wanted to move on. Despite his opinion of the trial, he said, "there's a mark on his presidency which I think in a lot of ways is justified."

Scott D. Schneider '00, President of the MITLibertarians, was disappointed with the trial's outcome for different reasons than the MITCollege Republicans. Citing official Libertarian positions, Schneider said that "as usual, the Republicans have set their sights too low and failed to achieve them. Libertarians care not about the Lewinsky sex scandal, but about Clinton's routine violations of the United States Constitution."

However, the MITLibertarians did not oppose Clinton's impeachment entirely. "Clinton should have been impeached for allegations of selling nuclear weapons delivery systems technology to the Chinese, abusing FBI files, endorsing a ban on homosexual marriages, signing two bills that censored the internet, signing the Brady Bill, limiting encryption technology, expanding asset forfeiture, and so on," Schneider said.

Regarding the acquittal itself, he said, "I was disappointed last Friday, when Clinton was acquitted, because it means that Congress and the President can return to their full-time job violating the Constitution and increasing regulation of Americans' social and economic lives."