By Peggy McGlone/The Star-Ledger
NEW BRUNSWICK — The Rutgers University New Brunswick Faculty Council approved a resolution yesterday urging the university’s Board of Governors tor rescind its invitation to Condoleeza Rice to speak at commencement.
Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice will give the commencement address at Rutgers University this spring, a decision that has come under fire from a Rutgers New Brunswick faculty committee. (File Photo)
The Board of Governors voted earlier this month to award an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Rice, who served as Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. She will be paid $35,000 for her commencement address.
But the faculty council cited her war record and her misleading of the public about the Iraq war as reasons for their opposition.
“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 waterboarding,” it said.
“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.”
Though a largely symbolic measure, the resolution is intended to voice the opposition on campus. Several petitions are circulating, one with at least 100 faculty signatures, some faculty said.
“I’m a member of the faculty council and this seemed the right forum to raise the concern,” Robert Boikess, a Chemistry professor who introduced the measure, said after the closed meeting. “Many students are very concerned as well.”
Rudolph Bell, a professor of history, said Rice would be welcome to speak on campus at other events, but graduation is different. “But the person invited for the graduation, which is supposed to inspire graduating seniors, that is a different kind of setting,” he said. “Academic freedom doesn’t guarantee the right to be a speaker or receive an honorary degree.”