Rutgers Faculty Condemns Rice as Speaker

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Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 11:20 AM

By Courtney Coren

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Faculty and students at Rutgers University are protesting the invitation to former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to be this year's commencement speaker because of her involvement with the Iraq War.

The university's New Brunswick Faculty Council passed a resolution on Feb. 28 condemning the Board of Governors for inviting Rice to address the 2014 graduating class at the New Jersey school and are asking the board to rescind the offer, Fox News reported.

Rice "played a prominent role" in the Bush administration's "efforts to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," the resolution says. "[She] at the very least, condoned the administration's policy of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' such as water boarding."

According to New Brunswick Today, chemistry professor Robert Boikess introduced the resolution to the council.

"Commencement should be about celebrating," Boikess said. "It shouldn't be about politics and polarizing students and faculty by bringing such a controversial speaker."

Some students are also protesting the invitation. An editorial appeared in Rutgers' student newspaper, The Daily Targum, also condemning Rice as commencement speaker.

"Given the very controversial policies and political decisions Rice is responsible for, we don't feel that this kind of award is appropriate," the editorial stated.

The Board of Governors chose Rice unanimously in February to be the commencement speaker. She will also receive an honorary doctorate as well as $35,000 for the speech.

According to The Star-Ledger, Republican state Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini condemned the resolution saying that it "is nothing more than a political firestorm fueled by their hatred of an opposing ideology, and President George W. Bush in particular."

In spite of the protests, the Rutgers Board of Governors and administration are sticking by their decision.

"Dr. Rice is a highly accomplished and respected diplomat, scholar and author, and we are excited that she has agreed to address our graduates and guests at Commencement," Greg Trevor, a Rutgers spokesman, told Fox News.

Similar controversies arose when Rice was chosen as commencement speaker to the graduating classes at Boston University in 2006 and Southern Methodist University in 2012.

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