Submitted by JamieB on Sun, 05/08/1994 - 10:18
In a time-honored University tradition, Rutgers students, faculty, and community staged a teach-in Condoleezza Rice, her legacy in the Iraq War and torture, and on academic values.
Originally scheduled as a protest, the May 6 event ultimately followed Dr. Rice's decision to withdraw from the role as commencement speaker. The teach-in featured outstanding and diverse speakers and activists, who urged attendees to engage with ideas and remember their history. Video of the entire event is available here and at Muckers. The student panel, which begins at 3:10:00 in the video, brought down the house.
We made our voices count. A substantial majority of faculty who responded to our AAUP-AFT poll said no to Condoleezza Rice being our commencement speaker and being awarded an honorary degree. More than 375 faculty members signed a strongly worded petition urging the Board of Governors to rescind its invitation to Dr. Rice. The New Brunswick Faculty Council and the Newark Faculty of Arts and Sciences passed resolutions demanding the same thing; the Camden College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate issued a statement opposing the Board's decision as well. In sum, faculty opposition was expressed in the best tradition of shared governance, in sharp contrast to the undemocratic and secretive manner in which Dr. Rice was invited.
Students have also been active and very much involved in this debate, conducting their own polls, meetings, and discussions. This past week, students drawing on the legacy of student and other social justice movements staged a sit-in at Old Queens. Later in the week, they attended in large numbers the University Senate meeting and challenged President Barchi on Rice’s record related to the Iraq war and the Bush torture regime. For the students who participated in this protest, as for the faculty members who signed the petition, Rice’s record condoning torture is antithetical to the values that Rutgers holds.
Dr. Rice, having heard our objections, decided that she would not tarnish our commencement and withdrew from the event. This process and outcome is what free speech looks like. A secret decision was made, faculty and students raised their collective voices, and Dr. Rice chose to withdraw from the event.
We therefore regret, disavow, and challenge President Barchi's statement that “Rutgers University stands fully behind the invitation to Dr. Rice.” What is Rutgers University if not its faculty and students?