More than 150 Rutgers University students protested the selection of former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice Monday with an all-day sit-in.
Rice is slated to speak at this year’s commencement ceremony on May 18.
“She’s the person who signed onto the CIA to enact torture practices, meaning waterboarding . . . removing fingernails, cuffing and hanging people by their wrists,” graduating senior and protest organizer Sharif Ibrahim said. “She misled the American public. She made dozens of statements to several media outlets that said that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and as we all know, Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction.
“As a result of the war, Iraq has the highest radioactivity rate ever, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because of the radioactive weapons, specifically the chemical weapons used in Fullujah,” Ibrahim continued. “Aside from that, there are 4.5 million displaced orphans as a result of the war in Iraq. These people are suffering because of a war of choice, not necessity. She made statements that have been no benefit to us as a nation, have not helped the people of Iraq, and have not helped us in the war on terror. She was the president’s leading adviser on foreign relations. She represents all these things, and her coming here is an affirmation of everything she’s done. By awarding her an honorary degree, we are perpetuating things that are very wrong. Inviting her is allowing it to happen again, and we can do better than that.”
About 20 students faced arrest for continuing to stage a sit-in after the Old Queens administration building closed at 6 p.m. Roughly 40 more students joined them outside in protest of the university’s honoring a woman they described as a “war criminal.”
The university would not comment on the student and faculty criticism of Rice. Rutgers usually follows a more democratic process when selecting commencement speakers, according to labor professor Janice Fine, one of the school’s 350 faculty members who voted against Rice speaking at this year’s ceremony.
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