All Voices examines the controversy developing at Rutgers University, where the faculty have passed a resolution demanding that an invitation sent to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be that school’s commencement speaker be rescinded.
The Rutgers University Faculty Council has approved a resolution calling upon the university’s Board of Governors to rescind its invitation to Condoleezza Rice to speak at commencement.
It was just last month when the board unanimously picked Rice to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and serve as its principal commencement speaker for the upcoming graduation ceremonies. Rice, who was George W. Bush’s second Secretary of State, will also be paid $35,000 for her efforts.
But the faculty council’s resolution has thrown a sizable wrench into the university’s graduation gears, plans and festivities. It has reminded us all of Rice’s distasteful war record, including her misleading of the public about the ill-advised and costly Iraq war. Recall her dire warnings against Saddam Hussein’s soon-to-come “mushroom cloud” which would destroy us all?
“Condoleezza Rice … played a prominent role in (the Bush) administration’s effort to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction,” according to the resolution. And she “at the very least condoned the Bush administration’s policy of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ such as water boarding,” the resolution read.
The professors were just warming up, though:
“A Commencement speaker… should embody moral authority and exemplary citizenship,” it continued, and “an honorary Doctor of Laws degree should not honor someone who participated in a political effort to circumvent the law.”
This sets up to be quite the set of values, for lack of a better term. Does denying someone a place to speak on campus — regardless of the event in which that person is attending — violate one of the hallmarks of America’s higher education system: Respecting and listening to opinions across the political spectrum?
If the university’s administration refuses to back down, would the faculty boycott commencement, thus taking attention away from the students?
And perhaps most importantly: if you thought that the faculty, students, alumni and friends of Notre Dame were wrong to boycott the commencement in which President Obama was invited, then what makes the situation at Rutgers different? And if you thought that what took place at Notre Dame that day was the right thing to do, then how is the situation at Rutgers different?