Condoleezza Rice Withdraws From Rutgers University Commencement Address

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the 2014 Masters golf tournament.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will not give the commencement speech at Rutgers University amid backlash from staff and students.

Rice, who is now a political science professor at Stanford, said that she ultimately decided to decline Rutgers’ invitation as she did not want to smother the spirit of the day.

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”

Students and faculty had protested Rice’s commencement address, accusing her of being a fervent proponent of the Iraq War while working with President Bush.

“Some students and faculty at New Jersey’s flagship university had protested, staging sit-ins and saying Rice bore some responsibility for the Iraq War as a member of the Bush administration,” the Associated Press reported.

Rutgers’ administrators repeatedly refused to heed to the student protests. A day before Rice announced her withdrawal, the university announced that they would not revoke their invitation.

After Rice cancelled, Rutgers President Robert Barchi urged her to reconsider, saying, “[We] stand fully behind the invitation.”

He acknowledged, however, that the commencement should focus on the happiness of the students.

“Now is the time to focus on our commencement, a day to celebrate the accomplishments and promising futures of our graduates,” Barchi said.

Although Rice won’t attend, she refused to take the protestors’ criticism sitting down, saying, “I defended America’s belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas.”

Rutgers is now looking for a new speaker for the May 18th ceremony.

Rice missed out on a serious pay day, having been offered $35,000 by Rutgers to make the commencement address.

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