Rice backs out from Rutgers graduation speech amid protest

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

New Brunswick, NJ, United States (4E) – Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice declared on her Facebook account Saturday that she is no longer delivering a speech before graduating students of Rutgers University on May 18.

In her withdrawal statement, Rice said she did not want to be a distraction for the school.

“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” she said.

RU President Robert Barchi released a statement saying the decision of Rice is respected.

Rice’s decision came amid protests by RU students, who accused her of supporting the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and approval of torture or waterboarding of terrorism suspects during the Bush administration.

Last week, dozens of students at the RU’s New Brunswick campus held a sit-in in front of the office of Barchi at the Old Queens College. They demanded that the university disinvite Rice from speaking at the commencement exercise.

“Rice signed off to give the CIA authority to conduct their torture tactics for gathering information from detainees as well,” said an open letter to Barchi printed in the student paper The Daily Targum on April 30. “These are clearly human rights issues. By inviting her to speak and awarding her an honorary degree, we are encouraging and perpetuating a world that justifies torture and debases humanity.”

On Friday, nearly 100 students gathered at the student center during a senate meeting that day to question the university president.

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