Rutgers U Paper Calls on School to Disinvite Condeleezza Rice

"By refusing to compromise on the issue of not only inviting, but also honoring Rice at our commencement ceremony this year, Rutgers is only digging itself into an even deeper hole"

The editorial board of The Daily Targum,  the student paper of Rutgers University, called on the university administration to disinvite former Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice from the university's commencement. Rice is due to speak as well as receive an honorary degree and a $35,000 honorarium. The editorial staff lashed out at the university in an editorial titled, "Rutgers should learn from Brandeis."

The paper begins by prasing Brandeis University's decison to revoke the offer of an honorary degree to human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

What kind of message would Brandeis be sending if it presented its most prestigious honor to a woman who is responsible for this kind of hate speech and for condemning an entire religion? It was a very poorly made decision, but we still think it is commendable that Brandeis realized this and corrected its mistake.

We wish we could say the same about our own university. Despite the controversy, the protests across the Rutgers community and a faculty petition with more than 350 signatures, Barchi and the Board of Governors have made it clear they will not compromise on their decision. Instead, those in favor of having Rice insist that rescinding her invitation or even revoking her honorary degree would be in violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech. This is a weak defense that completely misses the point. It’s not that Rice is not welcome at Rutgers, it’s that our commencement ceremony is supposed to be about celebrating graduates’ hard work and accomplishments, and it’s not the appropriate venue for such a polarizing figure to deliver the address and receive an honorary degree.

The editorial staff then suggests that the actions of the former Secretary of State Rice make her an unacceptable commencement speaker:

By presenting Rice with an honorary degree, the University makes clear that it believes Rice’s achievements — which include the political decisions made during her time as Secretary of State, specifically, the invasion and subsequent destruction of Iraq — are in line with the values of the University and are worthy of this honorary degree. It means that the University considers her to be someone the graduating class should look to as a role model. But who gets to make that call? There needs to be a more transparent process of selecting commencement speakers and recipients of an honorary degree because the decision to invite and honor Rice is clearly not representative of our entire university, or even a majority of it, in any way. 

The demand concludes by calling Hirsi Ali a bigoted person and with a demand to revoke the speaking invitation from Rice:

We commend Brandeis University for reversing its decision and taking the opinion of its community into consideration. Of course, it is a major embarrassment for the university to have offered the degree to a bigoted person in the first place, but it has at least done the right thing instead of stubbornly refusing to consider a majority opinion to try and save its own face. By refusing to compromise on the issue of not only inviting, but also honoring Rice at our commencement ceremony this year, Rutgers is only digging itself into an even deeper hole.

Read in full HERE.