Condoleezza Rice backed out of delivering the commencement address at Rutgers University after protests by students and faculty who were against honoring the former secretary of State due to her role in the Iraq War. “Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said in a statement posted by the National Review. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”
Students and faculty had been staging protests to explain their objections to Rice and a group of about 50 students staged a sit-in at the campus administration building, reports the Star-Ledger. A group of faculty members was also scheduled to hold a teach-in at the university’s New Brunswick campus on Tuesday to discuss the controversy. "Attending the teach-in will be a strong signal that we will not sit quietly while a small group of irresponsible people dishonor our beloved university," Rudolph Bell, a history professor who was one of the organizers of the opposition to Rice, wrote in a letter to the campus.
Rice’s withdrawal came a day after school leaders told students that the board of governors was not planning to rescind Rice’s invitation to speak, reports the Associated Press. The school’s board of governors had agreed to pay Rice $35,000 and award her an honorary doctoral degree for her commencement speech scheduled for May 18.