Obama calls Rutgers' #NoRice protests 'misguided' and undemocratic

During his Rutgers University commencement speech, President Barack Obama called the 2014 #NoRice protests “misguided” and undemocratic.

“The notion that this country would be better served by not hearing from a former Secretary of State or shunning out what she had to say, I think that is misguided. I don’t think that’s how democracy works best, when we are not willing to listen to each other,” Obama said in reference to the student protests against former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaking at the school's 2014 commencement. 

Following student protests and accusations of "war crimes," Rice declined the commencement invitation. 

But compromise means listening to those who do not agree with you, Obama told the graduating seniors at the May 15 commencement address. 

He said although it is no secret that he disagrees with the previous administration's foreign policies, he believes students should have challenged Rice to explain her positions rather than protest her appearance on campus. 

"If you disagree with someone, bring them in and ask them tough questions," he said. "Pull their feet to the fire. Make them defend their positions.

Obama told students that if someone has an offensive idea, to “prove them wrong.”

"Engage it. Debate it. Stand up for what you believe in," Obama said. "Don't be scared to take somebody on. Don't feel you need to shut your ears off because you're too fragile and someone might offend your sensibilities." 

The president made similar comments during his speech at Howard University on May 7 when he spoke about the "safe space" culture on college campuses. 

Avalon Zoppo is the managing editor of The Daily Targum. She is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. Follow her on Twitter @AvalonZoppo for more stories.

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