As individual professors called her a “war criminal” whose mere presence would tarnish the school’s reputation, the body that represents the interests and concerns of faculty members at Rutgers University in New Jersey is slamming the administration’s decision to invite Condoleezza Rice to give this year’s commencement address and receive an honorary degree.
Both students and faculty at separate campuses have now signed off on resolutions calling for Rice to be disinvited.
“At the outset, we wish to record our concern that this decision was made in secret — outside of the traditional Rutgers procedures for selecting commencement speakers,’’ the executive board of the Rutgers University New Brunswick Faculty Council said in a statement on Wednesday. “Instead of soliciting nominations, the university community was simply informed last November that there was no need to make any suggestions because the decision on who would speak at commencement had already been made. We are concerned that the decision was made in a way that essentially denied free speech and open discourse to the university community.’’
At the Newark campus of the school, faculty and students also raised their voices against the decision by Rutgers President Robert L. Barchi, who has repeatedly stood by the decision to have Rice as the keynote speaker.
“This is not good for Rutgers,” said H. Bruce Franklin, a Rutgers-Newark English and American Studies professor. “What we’re doing is awarding an honorary degree and having a commencement speech from someone who is a war criminal.”
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