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College Republicans hold vigil for Barbara Bush at Fresno State

The Fresno State College Republicans hosted a vigil Wednesday for former U.S. First Lady Barbara Bush, two weeks after she died.

About one dozen people gathered in the campus Free Speech Area to honor Bush. The vigil came as the university continued to fight back criticism after English professor Randa Jarrar tweeted out offensive messages about Bush, calling her a “racist” who had “raised a war criminal.”

The comments led a furious debate over the professor’s conduct. Fresno State officials said she would not be fired because she did not violate any California State University or university policies.

The university fought back criticism before a forum was held on campus Wednesday morning to allow students, staff and faculty to address the matters directly with Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro. A larger forum is planned for Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Save Mart Center.

Madison Marks-Noble, membership director for the California College Republicans, said the event was held to allow those who wanted to pay their respects to Bush to do so together.

Associated Students, Inc. President Blake Zante called Bush a true leader. “She had thick skin and I guarantee you that she would gracefully shake off the divisive comments that have been said by an individual several weeks ago,” he said in prepared remarks.

A representative from Assemblyman Jim Patterson’s office attended in his place. Members of Castro’s Cabinet also attended the event.