Rutgers handling of student protests disappointing
Letter to Editor
As proud alumni of Rutgers University, nothing makes us happier than seeing Rutgers students use their education to make the world a better place. It was with great pride that we recently watched a video of current students standing up for their right to participate in selecting who would speak at their upcoming graduation. We are proud that they tried to work with the administration using proper channels and even more proud to see that, when they were rebuffed, they pressed for dialogue using the honored tradition of civil disobedience. Their actions are part of a long and proud history at Rutgers University, and they reflect a deep understanding of the ways we all need to be willing to put ourselves on the line when we see an injustice.
It was frustrating and disheartening to see the patronizing and mealy-mouthed way Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Felicia McGinty addressed students after they spoke so eloquently and knowledgeably about the connection between the terrible consequences of military action in Iraq and the bland a-political politics of prestige and cronyism evidenced by the decision to invite such a polarizing figure to speak at graduation. Note that Condoleezza Rice was not invited to participate in open debate, but instead to be permitted to speak unchallenged for a large sum of money and an honorary degree. Their critique of Rice’s role in the war in Iraq war, particularly, the use of torture is smart and worth considering. Their requests were reasonable, and their patience in the face of increasingly outrageous threats of arrest and suspension was remarkable.
Students like these make us proud to say that we graduated from Rutgers. They give us great hope for the future. We support them fully in both their demand to dis-invite Rice and their insistence that all decision-making work through the proper channels.
We resolve not to support Rutgers in any way until we see evidence that the administration respects the right of students to participate in decisions that affect them and, when denied that right, to engage in peaceful civil disobedience.
Additionally, we expect to hear that Felicia McGinty has been reprimanded or fired for her inability to respect the students in her charge. Her rudeness and disregard for students engaging in peaceful civil disobedience suggest that she is not qualified for her current job unless she receives further training, perhaps from the very students she treated so disrespectfully.
This letter is written by Alexine Fleck, a Rutgers class of 1992 alumna, and backed by several other alumni: