BROCKTON — A student who shouted "Remember Chappaquiddick!" during an appearance by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at Massasoit Community College was questioned by campus police but will not be disciplined as he had feared.
"There is no disciplinary action planned against the student," Dick Cronin, Massasoit spokesman, said this morning. "The student was spoken to by campus police. That's the end of the matter."
Paul Trost, 20, of Foxboro said he was upset by the glowing introduction of Kennedy by U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., during their appearance at the school's Brockton campus on Tuesday.
He yelled the reference to Chappaquiddick at the beginning of Kennedy's speech, which focused on cuts in federal aid to college students and other Bush administration policies. Kennedy is running for his eighth full term in office.
"My goal was to make people aware of what he did," Trost said, referring to the 1969 accident on Martha's Vineyard that claimed the life of a passenger in a car Kennedy was driving.
Kennedy did not respond to Trost's shout, but Trost said that many in the crowd gasped and then he walked out of the student center where they had gathered.
Trost said a campus police officer spoke to him outside and he saw some state police troopers, who typically accompany Kennedy for security, go outside.
Trost, who is studying liberal arts, said he was told by campus police that he could face expulsion. "Campus police said it's an arrest-able offense for disturbing a public assembly," Trost said.
Trost said today he was relieved there will be no disciplinary action. He added, "I have a right to voice my opinion and I should be allowed to say what I want without fear of reprisal."
Trost said a teacher who overheard him talking to another student about the incident called him "ignorant."
In 1969, Kennedy left a party and was driving a car that went off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island on Martha's Vineyard. His passenger, Capitol Hill secretary Mary Jo Kopechne, died after the car landed in the water. At the time, Kennedy said he tried to rescue Kopechne but was unsuccessful and swam to shore. The accident was not reported until eight hours later. Kennedy said he was exhausted and in shock.
Kennedy entered a plea of guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident after causing injury. He received a sentence of two months in jail, which was suspended. A grand jury later reopened the investigation but did not return an indictment.
"He told me he was tired of listening to hypocrisy," Edward Trost, Paul's father, said today about the heckling at Massasoit.