Rutgers is unlikely to revisit its decision to select former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as its 2014 commencement speaker, despite protests from faculty and students who are irate over Rice’s role in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
The Rutgers Board of Governors is set to meet Tuesday, the last time the body will meet before commencement in May. A spokesperson for the university said there were no plans to discuss Rice’s invitation to speak.
“The matter is not on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting,” said Greg Trevor, director of media relations for Rutgers.
Although considered a pioneer as the first woman of color to rise to the level of secretary of state, Rice’s legacy has been complicated by her involvement in the invasion of Iraq and her support for torturous interrogations of terror suspects. More than 4,000 American servicemembers died in the Iraq War, and estimates of Iraqi deaths range between 100 and 400,000.
Shortly after the board voted unanimously to select Rice as speaker in February, university facultybegan circulating petitions to have her disinvited. The Rutgers New Brunswick faculty councilapproved a resolution criticizing Rice for having “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” and for having “condoned the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding.” The faculty council “urged” the board of governors to “rescind its misguided decision” to invite Rice. The Rutgers faculty council for the Newark campus followed suit, but a similar body from the university’s Camden campus declined to do so. An editorial in the Daily Targum, a Rutgers student newspaper, stated that “Rice probably has a lot of advice on perseverance, dedication and hard work that she can offer to this year’s graduating class, but what she chose to do with those qualities is certainly questionable to us.”
Yet the Rutgers student body appears to be far less opposed to the board of governors’ decision than the faculty. The Rutgers student assembly voted 25-17 last week to approve of the board of governor’s invitation. Rice will be receiving an honorary doctoral degree and a $35,000 honorarium,according to The Star Ledger.
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