Politics & Policy

Rutgers Rages over Rice

Professors try to nix Condi as commencement speaker.

Rutgers University is not backing down in the face of a faculty eruption over the New Jersey state school’s invitation of Condoleezza Rice to deliver this year’s commencement address. 

The Faculty Council at Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus is trying to oust Rice, a former secretary of state, national security advisor, and provost of Stanford University, as the university’s commencement speaker because she does not “embody moral authority and exemplary citizenship.”

Taking issue with Rice’s politics and career, professors passed a resolution Friday imploring the university’s Board of Governors “to rescind its misguided decision” to invite Rice and give her an honorary degree. Faculty councils on Rutgers’ Camden and Newark campuses are expected to do the same in the coming weeks.#ad#

Rice headed the Department of State in the George W. Bush administration’s second term. The resolution says Rice took part in the “lies” that led to the Iraq War, and says she “at the very least, condoned” such “enhanced interrogation” methods as waterboarding. The professors object to the “heavily political” nature of having Rice speak, French professor François Cornilliat told New Brunswick Today.

Chemistry professor Robert Boikess, who introduced the resolution, told National Review his objection isn’t that Rice is a political figure, but rather that her contentious past might distract from the ceremony. He said he considered it appropriate for Rutgers to invite New Jersey Governor (and University of Delaware graduate) Chris Christie in 2010. Boikess added that the faculty would be “honored” to have a president or former president come to campus.

Rice, on the other hand, is too divisive because of her association with the Iraq War, Boikess contended. “The problem in inviting someone controversial is there’s going to be disruptions of commencement,” he said, pointing to a student walkout when Rice spoke at Boston College’s ceremony in 2006. Rice’s 2012 Southern Methodist University speech drew similar demonstrations.

Rice isn’t alone. Republican commencement speakers frequently draw ire and protests from university populaces. Last year, celebrated Johns Hopkins surgeon Ben Carson offered to withdraw as his own college’s commencement speaker after an uproar over his conservative views.

Opposition to Democratic speakers is rare, if not wholly nonexistent. Democratic commencement speakers including Bill Clinton and Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin endured very little pushback.

Republican New Jersey assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini sees the opposition as purely ideological. She blasted the resolution on Rice as “nothing more than a political firestorm fueled by their hatred of an opposing ideology, and President George W. Bush in particular.”

For the time being, the Rutgers university administration is standing firm in keeping Rice.

“Dr. Rice is a highly accomplished and respected diplomat, scholar, and author, and we are excited that she has agreed to address our graduates and guests at Commencement,” said a spokesman.

— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Kat Timpf Chased Out of Brooklyn Bar

Fox News personality and National Review contributor Kat Timpf was forced to leave a bar in Brooklyn over the weekend after a woman she had never met became enraged upon learning she worked in conservative media. Timpf, who has twice previously been harassed while socializing in New York City, first described ... Read More
Film & TV

The Dan Crenshaw Moment

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a ... Read More

The Present American Revolution

The revolution of 1776 sought to turn a colony of Great Britain into a new independent republic based on constitutionally protected freedom. It succeeded with the creation of the United States. The failed revolution of 1861, by a slave-owning South declaring its independence from the Union, sought to bifurcate ... Read More

Florida’s Shame, and Ours

Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life. So are conspiracies. I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains -- even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat -- who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen ... Read More

There’s No ‘Neo-Jim Crow’ in Georgia

In the overtime of the 2018 elections, the Left can’t decide whether it opposes casting doubt on election results or insists on it. In the case of the Georgia gubernatorial election, narrowly lost by African-American activist Stacey Abrams, it’s unquestionably the latter. A cottage industry has grown up ... Read More
Economy & Business

Virginia Gives Away the Store to Amazon

Amazon’s deal with the Virginia state government to put part of their new headquarters in Crystal City is now official, and the details are dribbling out. Just about all of them are bad. Begin with the otherworldly claim that “regional and local transit systems have significant unused capacity, even during ... Read More