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Condoleezza Rice was chosen as Rutgers University’s 2014 commencement speaker, but the decision is bringing more controversy than praise.

The Associated Press reports roughly 50 students at the New Brunswick, N.J. campus staged a sit-in to protest Rice’s visit, citing disapproval of her role in the Iraq War. Several faculty members and students requested for the Board of Governors to rescind the invitation.

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Handmade signs at the protest read: “No honors for war criminals,” “War criminals out” and “RU 4 Humanity?”

According to sources, school officials voted to pay the former secretary of state and national security adviser $35,000 for her appearance. She is also scheduled to receive an honorary degree at the May 18 ceremony.

In response to the backlash, University President Robert Barchi said Rutgers “welcomes open discourse on controversial topics.”

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“We cannot protect free speech or academic freedom by denying others the right to an opposing view, or by excluding those with whom we may disagree,” he said in a letter to campus. “Free speech and academic freedom cannot be determined by any group. They cannot insist on consensus or popularity.”

Welp, it will be interesting to see how the students embrace her next month.


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Rutgers Students Protest Condoleezza Rice’s Commencement Speech  was originally published on