(New Brunswick, NJ) – Angry about the selection of Condoleezza Rice as commencement speaker for 2014, a group of Rutgers University student protesters took control of the Old Queens administration building today. However, it appears that few are taking the protest seriously.
One protester’s sign – “RU 4 HUMANITY?” – caused some to react with mixed feelings.
“So they’re mad at Condi,” said a Rutgers alum, speaking on condition of anonymity. “And they’re pushing for humanity and justice, which is great. But when I attended school here, we had the worst food imaginable. We had to regularly eat Codfish Tails Parmesan and Turkey Tetrachloride, not to mention steak that couldn’t be cut with a knife. Where was the university’s humanity then?”
At issue: the role Rice played in President George W. Bush’s War on Terror, widely considered a catastrophic failure today due to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Rice served as Bush’s National Security Advisor from 2001-5, and as Secretary of State from 2005-9.
As National Security Advisor, she ignored Bush’s August 6, 2001, Daily Brief from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) titled “Bin Ladin (sic) Determined To Strike in US” – as did Bush. Five weeks later, the Pentagon was heavily damaged, the Twin Towers were destroyed, and over 3,000 people were dead.
Also, in 2002, she concurred with Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney over the use of waterboarding on those captured in the War on Terror. While Bush insisted the United States did not torture detainees, waterboarding is considered torture by legal experts, war veterans, intelligence officials, military judges, and human rights organizations.
This is not the first time Rutgers has seen controversy involving a commencement speaker. In April 2011, Jersey Shore’s Snooki was paid $32,000 to speak at Rutgers. One month later, the university’s commencement speaker, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, was paid $30,000.
Rice will be paid $35,000 for her May speech.
“It’s interesting that students had no problem paying over $30,000 to a talentless hack, but they’re all bent out of shape over someone who actually performed valid public service for her country,” said a spokesman for Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ), speaking on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the protest is forcing the university to face an international threat. Several of the protesters belong to the Department of Russian & East European Languages and Literatures, and this has brought Russia – recently vowing to protect Russian-speaking people in Ukraine – into the mix.
“We are committed to protecting Russian citizens, and those who are Russian-speaking, no matter where they are,” said a Russian government spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are following the Rutgers developments closely, and we are ready to respond.”
Reports from The Daily Targum, the official Rutgers newspaper, place Russian troops, tanks, and artillery directly across the Raritan River from the university, and reserves are apparently massing in Piscataway in preparation for a blitzkrieg via Route 18 South. But the city’s insufficient infrastructure may not allow a Russian assault.
“Good luck with the traffic,” said a current Rutgers student, speaking on condition of anonymity.