Condoleezza Rice Bails on Rutgers Commencement After Protests

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Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice backed out of a planned address at Rutgers University's commencement ceremony following a week in which student protestors staged sits-in. Numerous faculty members also spoke out against the honor. Rice was scheduled to receive $35,000 for her speech and also snag a coveted Doctor of Letters from the New Jersey institution.  

Rice took to Facebook to release a statement about her decision:

I am honored to have served my country. I have defended America's belief in free speech and the exchange of ideas. These values are essential to the health of our democracy. But that is not what is at issue here. As a Professor for thirty years at Stanford University and as it's former Provost and Chief academic officer, I understand and embrace the purpose of the commencement ceremony and I am simply unwilling to detract from it in any way.

Some objected on grammatical grounds:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, just hours removed from a colonoscopy, saluted Rice's move:

Rutgers President Bob Barchi opted to make clear that this wasn't the reneging of an invitation, but Rice's decision:

While Rutgers University stands fully behind the invitation to Dr. Rice to be our commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree, we respect her decision not to participate in the upcoming Rutgers University commencement, which she clearly articulated in her statement this morning.

With First Lady Michelle Obama's slated graduation speech to a Kansas high school moved and Brandeis University's canceling of a commencement speech by author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, this truly has been the spring of our political discontent. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.