Rice backs out of Rutgers Commencement
May 3rd, 2014
12:58 PM ET
7 months ago

Rice backs out of Rutgers Commencement

(CNN) - Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is backing out from delivering this month’s commencement address at Rutgers University in New Jersey after her slated appearance resulted in protests on campus about her Iraq War record and controversy within the community.

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said statement posted on her Facebook page Saturday. “Rutgers' invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”


State lawmakers, students and faculty had called on Rice’s invitation to be rescinded numerous times since the University announced her selection.

In a resolution sent to the University’s governing board in February, the Rutgers University New Brunswick Faculty Council argued that a public institution of higher learning should educate its students about past events and “not pretend they never took place.”

“Condoleezza Rice, as National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush, played a prominent role in his administration’s efforts to mislead the American people about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the existence of links between al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime,” the resolution said.

Republican New Jersey Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini criticized their protest in a statement, calling it “appalling and an embarrassment to our state.”

The school newspaper, The Daily Targum, published an editorial also condemning the selection, saying that while it is impressive that the University was able to recruit such a high-level official to address the students, they “can’t really ignore her controversial career.”

According to the school newspaper, nearly 100 students congregated during a Rutgers University Senate meeting Friday to question the University President about the issue and to protest.

The University had stood by its selection of Rice amid the controversy, with a spokesman telling New Brunswick Today in March that, “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."

Rutgers President Robert Barchi said in a statement in response to Rice’s withdrawal that while they respect her decision, the University still fully stands by her invitation and that further details about the commencement will be announced in the coming days.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reacted to Rice's statement tweeting, "As usual a class act by a great public servant."

Rice congratulated the future graduates and wished them and their families luck in her statement.

As a professor of thirty years and university official, Rice wrote, she “understand(s) and embrace(s) the purpose of the commencement ceremony” and is “simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.”

The former Secretary of State was set to receive $35,000 and an honorary doctorate for her address.


Filed under: Condoleezza Rice
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Winston Smith

    She should have kept the speaking engagement. She may not be a voice many want to hear, but she has every right to he opinion and speaking that opinion is another freedom we're supposed to have too. Oh! there may be consequences to live up to, or down, but she still has every right to decide her fate on this end of the bargain.

    May 3, 2014 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. aj

    USA is weak now because Bush and his cronies like Rice wasted tax dollars on wars.

    May 3, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  3. Stuffitu

    Sad, very sad that liberals get away with the stifling of free speech. Compare the grace and dignity of this wonderful person with the shrill voices of the harpies who attack. Seems to me that the democrat liberal "progressives" are racist and against women as well as being hypocrites and this instance certainly proves it.

    May 3, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  4. Name Bob Hayes

    She lied to help president Chaney "lol bush really?"start a war for oil.but because shes black shes untouchable, America time to wake up, 90 percent support chik fila, yet the media says gay is ok, the media is making policy and creating news, wake up!

    May 3, 2014 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  5. Name Bob Hayes

    Thank you "ja" for remembering what happened , so many destoyed lives and wasted teasure for Chaneys friends, and yes "warcrimes"is correct!

    May 3, 2014 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  6. Name Bob Hayes

    And"k"you're clueless, the students protesting was "free speech". They exercised it and won, proving it works.

    May 3, 2014 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  7. Malory Archer

    LOL at the usual suspects feigning outrage over a well deserved reaction to her presence. They're the same crew that were high fiving themselves all over these message boards earlier this week when Eric Holder cancelled a speech at a police academy following threats of protests from some local reichwing politicians. All y'all need to GTFOY.

    May 3, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  8. Silence DoGood

    K
    I am not an American, but I am surprised that there are people justifying this brazen blackout of free speech. Who is going to decide whether someone has a right to speak or not. Was Ms. Rice going to speak about the war, or about her life story to the students, many of them have not faced anything that she had had to face. She overcame many challenges to rise to a position she did.
    If the war was really the reason you are stopping her, what about thousands and thousands of people being killed right at this moment by this administration by drones. No need to worry about those people since they are being killed by the favorite party of Professors?
    what is happening to America? May be people do not realize how great this country is because of its staunch protection of free speech (not any more probably). They should walk out into the world to know the difference.
    ---------–
    The great thing about America is that this free speech applies to those protesting too. Not just the powerful few.

    May 3, 2014 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  9. HemiHead66

    You Conservatives can say what you want but George Bush is limited to where he can travel outside the U.S. because he'll be arrested for war crimes. Condoleezza Rice is a big part of that. They knew what they were doing, and that they were guilty. Why do you think Bush passed legislation freeing himself & his PNAC cronies of war crimes? I'll bet you Conservatives can't wait till the GOP take power again – being that their "Project For a New American Century" was such a hit the last time around.

    By the way, don't worry about Bush's cousin in the White House – The Drone Killer. I'm sure he'll make the most wanted list in a few countries once he's outta office.

    May 4, 2014 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  10. CryBabies

    You're a much bigger individual than any of these "no skin in the game" pampered Rutgers twits Ms. Rice. Thank you! P.S. Rutgers graduates.......get a job!

    May 4, 2014 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  11. Gurgyl

    ---well, those Drones killed "Terrorist" organizations, but to your surprise–Iraq War killed innocent, soldiers for just WMD yet none found, looted USA treasury–in a nutshell it toll on Treasury, innocent for Greed–who benefited? Halliburton, Cheney, etc. The incriminating criminals. Be rationale.

    May 4, 2014 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  12. Marie MD

    @K, not sure what country you are from but the thousands of lives that have been wasted and maimed thanks to this woman and her participation in a WMDs lie of a war allows me to please ask you to worry about your own country.
    I am glad Rutgers kept her away from any speech. This should be extended to the screecher, shrub #43, heartless cheney and anyone else who lied and people died.

    May 4, 2014 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  13. David S.

    Sad really and doesn't say much for Rutgers. Not sure if I'd send my son or daughter there to be brainwashed.

    May 4, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  14. Pete

    @ED1,ria,its always the liberals isn't it,a communist conspiracy right..Don't you think these kids graduating read books and know the history behind ole Condi Rice..She spent more time under Bushs desk than in front of it and remember idiots more died under Bushs terms as president in embassy ,other conflicts than just the 4 that died in Benghazi because of incompetence not listening to higher authorities to get out and return to the fortified embassy in Tripoli..Get your fact straight ,not straight from FOX...

    May 4, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  15. tommariner

    The Rutgers students should study the similarity of their actions to another group in the 1930's. As Wikipedia says "Their main assignments were providing protection for Nazi rallies and assemblies, disrupting the meetings of the opposing parties, fighting against the paramilitary units of the opposing parties (especially the Rotfrontkämpferbund) and intimidating Slavic and Romani citizens, unionists and Jews (e.g. the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses)."

    You know them as "Brownshirts".

    May 4, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  16. van3456

    Would love to test the students on current events of the mideast...i really doubt that they would get a passing grade. I have seen where reporters ask questions to students on spring break..One student thought Biden was a Republican!

    May 4, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  17. Jeff Bishop

    I knew someone who was an undergrad with Ms. Rice and also knew her professionally. According to my buddy, well, Let's just say that she is not the brightest bulb. She seems to have a talent for meetings. Her strategy: Remain quiet, soak in some key phrases being uttered by the most important person in the room, then, when asked her opinion, mimic the boss. This strategy took her to a cabinet position, but if anyone expects an original idea to come out of her mouth at commencement, they will be disappointed.

    May 4, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. Billy Bobb

    Remember these are the same people that voted, twice, for what we have now in the white house. Why would Ms. Rice want to stand in front of a group of fools like that and speak. Leave that to some liberal.

    May 4, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  19. joe

    the anti-war freaks (anti Bush)and the so called educated (not intelligent) folks at Rutgers don't deserve Condi. One less place for me to have my children apply to. thank you Rutgers.

    May 4, 2014 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. barryinlasvegas

    She certainly has more class than those open minded students. Sad to see how intolerant the young liberal democrats have become and all the time they preach tolerance. They need to listen to their own message.

    May 4, 2014 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  21. don in albuquerque

    Billy Bobb
    barryinlasvegas
    joe

    Oh I don't know, maybe she could explain why she thought is was Okay to kill thousands upon thousands for nothing except her (and the rest of this gangs) lie about a mushroom cloud that did not exist. And as for liberal intolerance-I suppose all those graves filled was Okey Dokey with you, I find it pretty intolerable. And your right except for one error Joe, the whole world did not deserve her or her boss. Murder for whatever reason just does not sit well with lots of people.

    May 4, 2014 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  22. Marie MD

    Yes because not inviting a known liar to speak at Rutgers makes you a liberal. When you throw a party you invite friends.
    At least these kids have brains and they know how to use it and let their voices be heard. That is so un American. Freedom to choose which the teaklans only acknowledge against women's rights.

    May 4, 2014 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  23. Thomas

    But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.".

    WMD's , never in the history of mankind did so few profit so greatly economically .

    War is profitable , ask Ahmed Chalabi .

    May 4, 2014 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
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