Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has chosen not to give a commencement speech at Rutgers University after students and faculty protested, speaking out against her role in the Iraq War.
Rutgers students and faculty had protested plans to have the George W. Bush administration cabinet member deliver the commencement speech, staging sit-ins and saying Rice was partially responsible for the war in Iraq, the Associated Press reports. The school’s board of governors and faculty had voted to pay Rice $35,000 for speaking at the event.
Rice defended her record in a statement, but said she did not want to detract from the May 18 ceremony.
“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”