New Brunswick Today reported this week that controversy has erupted on the Rutgers University campus over the decision by the university’s board of governors to invite former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at this year’s commencement ceremony (via Fox News):
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers University’s New Brunswick Faculty Council passed a resolution on Friday condemning the selection of Condoleezza Rice as the 2014 commencement speaker.
Rice, who is considered by many to be a controversial official in the administration of President George W. Bush, has not been well-received by the university community since she was announced as the graduation speaker last month.
“Condoleezza Rice…played a prominent role in the administration’s efforts to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction,” reads the resolution adopted Friday.
“[She] at the very least condoned the administration’s policy of [torture] such as water boarding.”
The council had been working for several weeks to see this resolution through. It was introducted by chemistry professor Robert Boikess.
According to Boikess, ““Commencement should be about celebrating. It shouldn’t be about politics and polarizing student and faculty by bringing such a controversial speaker.”
Several other faculty voiced their support for the resolution.
French professor François Cornilliat criticized Rice’s selection as “heavily political”, asserting that “our students are being manipulated to deliver a political point.”
History professor Rudolph Bell was somewhat ambivalent, saying that Rice should not speak at graduation, but should be welcome to speak at some other event. Bell suggested that Rice was not the right person to “inspire graduating seniors.”
The Faculty Council resolution called Rice’s selection “misguided,” and called for the Board of Governors to reconsider its decision.
The Rutgers Board of Governors unanimously approved Rice as the commencement speaker in February, and approved a $35,000 honorarium for the former Secretary of State.
Rice will also receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the university.
The resolution said that such a degree “should not honor someone who participated in a political effort to circumnavigate the law”.
“A commencement speaker, who is entrusted with speaking to graduating students about the direction of their future lives, should embody moral authority and exemplary citizenship”, reads the resolution.
“[P]olitical effort to circumnavigate the law”? “[S]hould embody moral authority”? Guess this means in the future that President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former IRS official Lois Lerner and other Obama administration officials should be left off the invite list as well.