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Student Protest Forces Condoleezza Rice to Pull Out of Rutgers Commencement

Student Protest Forces Condoleezza Rice to Pull Out of Rutgers Commencement

“It is great and amazing to be a part of it. I was surprised that in a public university in New Jersey in the United States we could actually get enough students mad enough to actually take this form of action, and it is great that so many students are so passionate about this. Finals are right around the corner for us and a lot of people have papers due and even so the people in this group want to do as much as possible. We posted on Facebook, we emailed professors, we’re talking to people on the streets, we’re publishing fliers, we’re going to start putting up stickers, we’re putting up banners, we’re doing demonstrations. We’re trying to get the word out and we’re trying to get people as passionate about this as they should be and as we are. One of the ways to do this is demonstrating to people that something like this that is giving our stamp of approval, all our collective stamp of approval as students who go to this university, against someone who has committed atrocities in the world, who has allowed and promoted torture and who hasn’t let people live, we are not going to let her be invited here uncontested, that this isn’t OK. I do think that this is more important than class and to a certain extent more important than papers. A lot of people, including myself, have to keep our grades up to even stay here because college costs money and people need their scholarships and people need to be thinking about the future but this is happening here and this is happening now and it is a lot more important than these other things because it is going to shape what our future looks like. Right now, just because we are doing this so many people are questioning who she is and what she’s done and what the administration did and what they have done and what kind of society we want to live in, and that is a great thing and it is so much more valuable than them trying to shut us down because class is happening.”

– A Rutgers student activist on their successful protests against Condoleezza Rice’s scheduled commencement address and honorary law degree

May 5, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us

On May 2, Condoleezza Rice released a statement that she was bowing out of an invitation she had received to give the commencement speech at Rutgers University on May 18. This is a major victory for students at Rutgers University who had been organizing escalating protests to demand that the university rescind her invitation. Fifty students staged a sit-in outside the Rutgers University president's office, and 100 students had confronted him with sharp questions and chanted their opposition when he appeared publicly a few days later. News of the students' protests spread around the world. Condoleezza Rice was the Secretary of State under President George W. Bush and she is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for her role in the U.S.'s immoral, unjust, and illegitimate wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the systematic use of torture. Her decision not to attend the Rutgers graduation reveals just how much the rulers of this country fear the truth of their crimes coming to light and how much they fear the potential for even greater political resistance and opposition. The courageous actions of these students won a victory for the people all over the world and

Revolution newspaper was happy to speak to one of the students involved in these protests. The following interview was conducted the evening before Condoleezza Rice made her announcement, so the student does not comment on this development.

Revolution: I am very happy to be talking to you. Monday was the first time I heard about what was brewing at Rutgers because you and about 50 other students took over the president’s office for a day. Why don’t you go ahead and tell us what you were a part of and why.

Student: OK, Monday we went into the administration building where President Robert Barchi’s office is. We did this in protest of Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, coming to be commencement speaker at this year’s graduation. She was invited to come almost a year ago but it was only released that she was coming a month ago. This invitation was put out without any form of consensus or consultation or any of the above to any faculty members, student groups, any Rutgers community except for the president himself with the Board of Governors. And the reason why this is such a big issue is because no one was consulted and Rice is someone not just controversial but someone who should be convicted as a war criminal because of all the things that she has endorsed, signed papers to allow, and instigated.

Revolution: OK, I want to talk more about what you did, but I think it is important, calling somebody a war criminal is a very big statement and I wonder if you could just explain in a little bit more detail and depth as to what you’re referring to for people who maybe don’t remember or never knew what she was involved in.

Student: Yes, that is very important because a lot of people in the Rutgers community seem to be confused because it is not something that is necessarily out there. So during the Bush administration Rice promoted the war on Iraq, she promoted the war in Afghanistan; I am not sure if she directly signed papers or was just OK with this, but either way she actively promoted drone surveillance in Iran and different countries in the Middle East that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. Also a lot of U.S. military deaths a lot of people here care about, although there have been a lot more civilians in these countries dead. There have been over 2.8 million people displaced in Iraq alone; people whose homes have been destroyed, families wrenched apart, daily attacks, people who simply can’t lead their daily lives. It has created more negative consequences in these countries; Islamic fundamentalism has fired up since these attacks started. Rice has actively promoted torture in facilities like Guantanamo Bay. She actively signed a paper allowing waterboarding. She has done other things other Republicans do, like not accept or allow anything about gay rights. She has actively said that the civil rights movement wasn’t necessarily as good as promoting education would have been, so she obviously doesn’t look at people having access to opportunities even though she herself was living it. It is just an accumulation of things that if this were years ago at the Nuremburg Trials1 she would not have gotten off free and now she is coming and she is being honored. I forgot to mention that not only is she coming to be the commencement speaker, she is also being awarded $35,000 and an honorary doctorate degree of law, and she is giving this speech that no one will be able to ask questions about and will not be open to debate; there will be no other speaker, she will be simply giving a speech.

Revolution: So based on that, the students at Rutgers decided they had to speak out against this, and faculty did as well. Why don’t you tell us what came together on Monday, April 28, what went into that, why people took over the president’s office, what it was like. Give us a sense of what went down and what has been happening since.

Student: I personally got involved very recently in what has been going on and have been active in the movement since then. Over 350 faculty members signed a petition to have Rice’s invitation rescinded. Students have been sending letters to the president himself, there have been a lot of editorials, and students from all different student groups organized on Monday to have a rally and then stage a sit-in at the president’s office. We were demanding initially to have a meeting with him because what we want is to have her invitation rescinded; we want to have this on the table; we want to have this talked about. So on Monday we gathered and headed over to Old Queens, that is the name of the [administration] building, and we took it over. We were chanting, it was 12:30 pm when we got in, we were chanting for about half an hour when the vice-chancellor of student affairs, Felicia McGinty, she talked to us. She addressed the entire group, she said that she would answer any questions and she would address our concerns. So then we started back and forth with her. A lot of students raised concerns about the issue of the way this process took place and who Condoleezza Rice is and what she does. McGinty was very contradictory in some of her statements. She, for example, said that it was great that students were mobilizing but then she was saying that forming a riot and not letting people do their jobs wasn’t going to get us anywhere. She offered to maybe try to set up a meeting with the president if, and only if, we left the building, not otherwise. She is supposed to be the vice chancellor of student affairs; she obviously did not care at all about student concerns because these have been concerns that have been vocalized for a while now but no one in the administration has actually done anything about it. It has only been faculty members and groups of alumni. There are groups of alumni that have been backing this cause but no one in the administration has actually done anything about it, and because students were tired of being ignored and this is an issue that is very meaningful to a lot of people that literally affects lives and conditions of people who live in other parts of the world, students decided to take a stand. Felicia McGinty was also very patronizing, she kept saying things like “we’re all adults here,” which by saying that put us in the position that we are not really acting like adults even though we technically are adults, we’re in college. So that conversation ended [and] even though it was respectful on both sides, we weren’t getting anywhere, she wasn’t actually listening to us. So she went back to President Barchi’s office, she went back down to the main lobby area and she was just sitting there, some students had to trickle out to go to class and exams and stuff like that. They wouldn’t let food in, they weren’t giving us access to bathrooms, they took away our megaphone that we had but we took up chants again and we were again chanting for a while, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Condi Rice has got to go,” “What’s the price of Condi Rice, one million dead,” and a bunch of different chants. And we were constantly tweeting under the hashtag #NoRice. After a while, we took up chants and they died down off and on and we were just kind of there. We were especially looking forward to what was going to happen when the building closes at 5 pm, and that was the time that we thought there would be more contention with the police officers. At 5 pm nothing happened, but around 6 one of the police officers basically gave us the ultimatum that either we leave or we risked getting arrested or suspended from the university. At this point there were almost 50 students inside, there were about 15 of us left staging this sit-in but there were a lot of people rallying outside, you could hear them from inside and it felt really good to have that support from the outside, they had signs, they were chanting, because we had done so much Twitter outreach there was some media there that were recording the whole thing. And from the inside one of the faculty members here contacted an attorney that does a lot of advocacy for student groups and this kind of thing and for other students in general.

Revolution: So then what happened?

Student: We focused, so we all decided, we spoke with a lawyer, and those of us who were still inside we discussed would we stay and possibly get arrested. We decided we should all do it as a group together, and more people wanted to leave than wanted to stay so we all left. We all marched out of the building with our left fists in the air and outside we kept chanting for a little bit and started talking to some media outlets and decided when our next meeting was going to be. So that is what happened there. It was a great feeling to be inside. It was really hot inside the building... we got tired at a certain point but despite that people kept chanting, kept yelling, there was a lot of energy, really positive energy. We were really happy to be protesting. For me personally people could tell that I had protested before, a lot of people kind of approached me. I hadn’t met a lot of these people before I was protesting [with them], but it created a huge bond between us, and a lot of people approached me and asked me and talked to me about how great it felt to be protesting, to all be chanting and have one voice and feel like you’re not alone and seeing how unjust something is and how great it felt to be raising voices with everyone else and feel like something was actually moving forward, could actually happen, that we had to be heard and things could change.

Revolution: Just to build on what you’re talking about, I know that during the student takeover you made a statement, I guess it was in response to people saying that you were disrupting class; you said yes, classes were being disrupted but the Iraq war caused the disruption of people’s lives and I wondered if you could talk more about... to me it wasn’t just a disruption, a physical disruption, although it was. It was also a disruption of the typical morality—head down, me first, do my studies, get to my job, do this, do that and not think about the world, and I wonder if you can kind of concentrate in that statement that there is a big ideological challenge to what is normal in America and I wonder if you can speak to that.

Student: It is a huge ideological challenge and one of the biggest issues that we are facing right now as a group. We’ve been having daily meetings with the group and it takes us a long time because we are trying to strategize on the long term not just on the short term and trying to build on this movement and how we want to approach things. And what keeps coming up in the meetings is that a lot of people don’t fully understand this term “war criminal” and why we are calling Rice particularly this. There have been a lot of comments about us being racist and not wanting free speech, and that is not at all what is at stake right now. Right now we are trying to inform people of this. I think it is really great and I was almost surprised, unfortunately, that this could really happen. It is great and amazing to be a part of it. I was surprised that in a public university in New Jersey in the United States we could actually get enough students mad enough to actually take this form of action, and it is great that so many students are so passionate about this. Finals are right around the corner for us and a lot of people have papers due and even so the people in this group want to do as much as possible. We posted on Facebook, we emailed professors, we’re talking to people on the streets, we’re publishing fliers, we’re going to start putting up stickers, we’re putting up banners, we’re doing demonstrations. We’re trying to get the word out and we’re trying to get people as passionate about this as they should be and as we are. One of the ways to do this is demonstrating to people that something like this that is giving our stamp of approval, all our collective stamp of approval as students who go to this university, against someone who has committed atrocities in the world, who has allowed and promoted torture and who hasn’t let people live, we are not going to let her be invited here uncontested, that this isn’t OK. I do think that this is more important than class and to a certain extent more important than papers. A lot of people, including myself, have to keep our grades up to even stay here because college costs money and people need their scholarships and people need to be thinking about the future but this is happening here and this is happening now and it is a lot more important than these other things because it is going to shape what our future looks like. Right now, just because we are doing this so many people are questioning who she is and what she’s done and what the administration did and what they have done and what kind of society we want to live in, and that is a great thing and it is so much more valuable than them trying to shut us down because class is happening. I am not sure if that fully answered your question.

Revolution: That extremely answered my question. That was a very good answer. I am very moved by it myself. I wanted to ask you, and you actually led right up to it, what you think it says not only about Rutgers but about the society we live in that somebody like Condoleezza Rice is not only walking free but is actually being honored or there is a proposal for her to be honored and giving speeches and honors around the country including at institutions that are supposed to be turning out the leaders of tomorrow, and what it says about the society that, not just what it says about her, but what it says about this country and society.

Student: This is my personal stance. I have met some very radical-minded people in the group but there are a lot of people who are outraged on the basis of what she has done in other societies. I think what it means is that we absolutely need to radically change society. To me that means a revolution, for other people it doesn’t mean that. I don’t see how you could fundamentally change this kind of thinking, this kind of stagnant, backwards thinking without changing society in a way that revolution would bring but that is not necessarily the idea of the whole group. What I will say, however… I am trying to think of how best to say this. It shows how, I can’t think of any other way to say this, but how backwards and corrupt the system is. I am glad you asked this question because I wanted to raise another issue. What was going to happen today [May 2] was there was a meeting; it was going to be the first official event to kind of promote The Big Ten2. Rutgers this year joined this coalition of universities into athletics that is very prestigious, that we have spent millions and millions of dollars upgrading and promoting and publicity to get in, and this morning was going to be the first big event for that. President Barchi was going to speak there and what we decided to do was stage a silent protest there and we decided it was going to be very public and it wasn’t only going to be the 100 or so of the core group of organizers for all the movements going on, so we decided we were going to make this very public. So it was all over Facebook, at least 1.7 million people saw it, and last night at our meeting we all received an email from Felicia McGinty saying the event had been cancelled. What we did find out, however, at the same meeting was that today there was going to be a meeting of the senators of Rutgers and that President Barchi would be present. So we decided to shift our focus from going to a meeting of the Big Ten to the senators meeting.

We decided we were going to go there, we were going to put tape over our mouths with the hashtag #NoRice, and that three or four of us wouldn’t wear the tape on our mouths and that we were going to ask the president questions. If he didn’t answer our questions, we were going to do a mic check, disrupt the meeting and then leave as a group. One of the things we found out about the Board of Governors is that the current Chair of the Board of Governors is way up there in the financial world and actually has direct ties with Condoleezza Rice. Not only does, not only do we find out that on the Board of Governors there’s someone with direct ties with Condoleezza Rice who might actually have a direct stake in this, we also find out that Chris Christie [governor of New Jersey] is going to be the commencement speaker at Rowan University which is now affiliated with Rutgers. So there’s kind of a whole series of things that are leading us to believe that this isn’t just coincidence that she’s coming, that there are higher political issues at stake here, and this has made us even more outraged. This morning when President Barchi actually did decide to answer our questions, which we were frankly surprised about because he has been very, very shy, he hasn’t confronted us at all, he’s basically pretended that nothing’s been going on. This morning he told us that he couldn’t rescind an invitation, he couldn’t do anything, so as president of Rutgers University he couldn’t rescind the invitation to the commencement speaker, he was telling us that it was exclusively an issue related with the Board of Governors and that he couldn’t actually do anything about this. So all of this is just the entire culture of politics in this country and that right now is affecting us directly as the State University of New Jersey. It’s frankly disgusting and we are not about to stand for it...

Another one of the questions we asked was about moral atrocities and crimes against humanity, and he chose not to answer this question. He directly chose not to answer this question, and he answered other related questions to war and torture with the exact same responses that Condoleezza still uses to this day. About how at that time people actually did believe there were weapons of mass destruction. He referenced the United Nations, he referenced the whole issue of 9/11, I mean he started talking about how his wife was in Manhattan that same day and how she hadn’t been able to come home for a week. And as students we were absolutely outraged by this kind of response, we were absolutely outraged at how he dodged the fundamental issue that we were trying to grapple with him here. He dodged it and was basically OK with Rice having done all of these things.

Revolution: Let me ask you one further question, and I understand that you are speaking for yourself here and not for the whole group that was involved, but you say you think it’s going to take a revolution and I wonder in your opinion, thinking about what you’ve been through, the kinds of changes that have happened even for you, maybe you can describe some of the changes that people have been through when they take part in something like this. The kinds of questions that poses and the ideas that brings up to people, how do you see what you guys have been a part of? I know it’s not the same as a revolution, but how do you see that in terms of building a movement for revolution. I guess I would ask you this: Do you see any relationship between the kinds of things that students are doing there and that you’re a part of and the kinds of things that need to happen to really change society in a more fundamental way through revolution?

Student: Right. I absolutely see a relation. People, I mean all over the world to a certain extent, but I feel like especially people in this country, and especially in suburban areas, people are raised to believe their entire life that a revolution isn’t possible, that it’s not going to actually change things. People have it ingrained in their minds that the only form of any type of change is through politics, through that kind of advocacy. People don’t think that protesting in the streets, that this kind of thing is valuable in any way because people are told that’s not the way things work, that it’s too radical, it’s too violent, that it’s just bad. A lot of people quite frankly don’t even question this, and then people participate in something like this and people realize how energizing it is, how good it feels because, I mean, people are repressed from these feelings their entire lives. Like people have to simply lay back and expect that they’re going to have to wait ‘til the next election to maybe change things and then live between election and election frustrated because they see that what they want to see changed isn’t actually changing. Be on a larger scale, be on a smaller scale, people get frustrated with this kind of thing. But yet revolution never crossed their minds because that’s just “bad,” like it’s not even reason, that’s just “bad.” And then to kind of link it back to this, when people find out that there’s going to be some sort of protest that they agree with, that they want to be a part of and they go... it’s just, I mean I can only assume, that’s eye-opening in the sense that suddenly you feel very powerful and you feel that you can actually move forward.

I was talking with a couple of friends of mine just yesterday and I asked them, I was like, wait, have you ever been to a protest? Because they were, the way they were saying things was very much taking the stance of this was too much and this wasn’t, and there was no way that we were actually going to rescind the invitation and that we should be trying to just like meet more peacefully with the president of the Board of Governors, with whoever we could basically. So I had to ask them have you ever been to a protest, and they were like “no.” And that moment just, I mean, for me it was kind of, my initial reaction was shock and that I realized that if I had fully thought about it I wouldn’t have been shocked because the entire culture in this country is built around people not actually standing up for themselves and not actually learning about how to really change things, to actually question the administration that runs this country or that runs whatever it is that is affecting their lives. People are taught that. And I think that it’s this kind of action that when people participate it’s one of the main things that actually get people to question what else is going on in the world and what else can and should be changed. I think that it’s mind-opening in a sense that probably a lot of the people who are participating in this now or who participate in protests similar to this in the future or in different parts of the country or what-have-you will have a different take on other forms of protest and will know what it feels like and will understand more what kind of support is needed. Because it’s also true that people didn’t get emotional but were borderline emotional when we were quiet inside the building and we could hear the people rallying outside. So I think that this also gives a sense of solidarity for other forms of rallies and for understanding that, yes, your voice and your action counts and I think that that is valuable towards changing society, even if it’s not enough, if it’s just one isolated action like this one.

Revolution: Well, I wanted to also ask you what has been, and you sort of again touched on it in your last answer, but I wanted to ask you more fully, what’s been the reaction in the last few days as you’ve gone out more broadly on campus? What’s been the reaction among students and faculty, as well as off-campus, but especially I want to start with on-campus.

Student: A lot of faculty have been very supportive. Faculty who have found out, my professors and other people in the group’s professors, have let us make announcements in class, let us use our email website to send out emails. When we talk to people there’s a lot who are supportive, but honestly there’s a lot of people who just don’t understand. Another huge issue is that a lot of people have never been told that she’s a war criminal. People haven’t fully thought about what the war has meant and people don’t even know that things like torture and drones have gone on at all. So a lot of people are very surprised when we first tell them. I’m just hoping that we can get this word out to enough people with enough time that people get fully engaged and riled up. Or get informed and spread our message or just get more informed themselves, and get more informed as to what kind of society they’re living in.

Revolution: Do you feel like there’s any difference in how much people are interested or curious?

Student: I think yes, definitely.

Revolution: Before or after Monday?

Student: I mean, Monday got huge coverage in the media and the people now have heard. At least even if people haven’t been doing the research that we wish they had been doing or have done, right now people at the very least know that there was a sit-in at President Barchi’s office, that there is a movement going on, so at the very least people do know that this is an issue. And now with our further actions what we’re trying to do is get the people that know about what we did on Monday to actually get involved and actually protest if they agree with us, or if they don’t, at least engage with us in discussion about why they don’t agree with us, and keep spreading the word to get more people informed and involved and more people angry at what’s happening and more people wanting to take a stance. Right now we’re also trying to get a lot of people to come out to the teach-in that’s happening May 6th, next Tuesday. We’re really pushing for absolutely everyone to come out and we hope to get as many people as possible out there.

Revolution: Let me ask you this, are people fighting still to get her invitation rescinded? Is that something you’re still fighting for?

Student: That’s a good question. We also found out that Brandeis University recently rescinded their invitation to their commencement speaker, I forget who it was, I forget if it was this year but it was in the last couple of years, Brandeis University was able to rescind the invitation to their commencement speaker very shortly before the commencement ceremony actually was. So we are still fighting to get her invitation rescinded, or at the very least not honor her with the $35,000 and an honorary doctorate’s degree. Right now what we want to negotiate, we are still fighting for her not to come and we still absolutely want her not to come, we do not want her here, we do not want her endorsed by this university, we don’t want the graduating seniors who have put effort and lots and lots of money into getting their degree, we do not want to have her present for their final ceremony at this university. However, if the Board of Governors, President Barchi, whoever can actually change this, were to sit down and fully negotiate with us, and would tell us that, and were to tell us that they’re not willing to rescind their invitation, even though we know that it’s possible—it’s happened before, we’d be willing for an additional speaker to come. So if she were to come and have her 15 minutes speech, we would be willing for her to have that and have someone who has countered that war, who comes from a different, probably more liberal perspective, have another equally long speech at the same ceremony. I mean, that’s what we’re staging right now. So like now we’re still pushing for her not to come, but are kind of like that’s a leverage point.

Revolution: OK, I know you guys have more things planned and I want to make sure that we keep in touch and share that with our readers as things develop. But for now my last question. Are there any things that you’re calling on people, any ways that people around the country or around the world could support, could relate to this, could lend their voices to really give backing and strength to what you guys are doing to keep a war criminal from being honored at your campus?

Student: Well. what we really want right now is to get as much information about her out there. So I think this taps into something much deeper than simply getting people informed. This is, the fact that she is being honored, goes much deeper than her simply speaking at commencement and simply what she has done. It goes into an entire basis for what this society stands for right now, and the reason for why we would like as many people retweeting, as many people watching the videos, as many people getting informed, as many people in tune with exactly what is going on—the reason why we want this happening is for people to start to question what she did. So not just the fact that she’s coming to Rutgers as an individual, but what she did with the power that she had and what the people around her did with the power that they had when they had power, and the people who have inherited that power today. I think that is extremely important, that we’re causing this much discussion, or this much debate, because that way people are looking at why we’re so outraged and wondering why. And the why goes so much deeper and I think that if we’re able to actually get our message out there all over different, all over this university, all over other universities, all over the country, it’ll really show that people don’t agree with where she stands, what she did, what went on and what still goes on currently. And I think that this raises awareness with a lot of other issues as well. It’s extremely important people continue to get informed, taking a look at the hashtag #NoRice where we’re continuing to post updates, to post videos and post photos of what’s been happening. Just read and get informed as to what she’s done, as to what’s going on in the world. I think that what’s almost most important here is to actually get people aware, and get people reading and get people questioning and get people talking with each other, get people arguing. Create a culture where people are actually grappling with these issues instead, as you mentioned before, just bowing their heads down and keep going with their daily lives. People are taught since the time when they’re little that their goal in life is to try to go through college, get their college degree, come out, get a steady job and form a family and that’s that. And there’s a lot more at stake here and people need to realize that and people need to act upon that.

Revolution: Well, thank you for taking the time. I know you guys are in the midst of many meetings and planning and finals, so thanks for taking the time to do all this and to talk with us about it.

Student: Alright, well, thank you for writing about us, for talking about our causes. It’s valuable to reach out as much as you possibly can.


1. The Nuremburg trials were a series of trials after World War 2 for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany. [back]

2. The Big Ten is the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States. [back]

Comments   

 
+1 # jnandez 2014-05-06 04:03
What the student calls to attention at the end is crazy important! People need to first get their foot in the door of a revolution by simply investigating it. Reading articles here and there, discussing with other interested students, and making an effort to understand what is really going on. These are simple things that anyone can do, and I feel that there needs to be more encouragement for this. Dr. Loo is great at this, but we need more people like him to encourage us young adults to finally TAKE ACTION!
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0 # Daniel Gomezz 2014-05-07 19:31
I feel that this supplements the assertions of conflict and elite theory. That even within institutions that allow some exposure of the atrocities of government, elites will make very crucial decisions that can bring unjust influence to the people within the institution (students in this case). Blatant examples such as this undermine Democratic theory and it's core assertion that in essence undermines the powerful effects of systems on individuals. These are times to build off of revolutionary moments.
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0 # katgrl15 2014-05-08 21:53
It is quite nice to know that students were able to stand up for what they believed in and in doing so obtained positive results. Some people may have seen this as kids being kids and overreacting, but as a student I can honestly say that theory and notion is completely false. The student that was interviewed even stated that, "Yes, that is very important because a lot of people in the Rutgers community seem to be confused because it is not something that is necessarily out there". People put their blinders and only see a celebrity, terminology being loosely used, is attending their child's graduation. This stance the students took can be referred back Marxism terms of dialectics and dichotomies. In this case these students have created a door open to change, denying a public figure to attend their graduation that is looked as ideal, even though the government is the dominant figure in society, which allowed Rice to be looked as a just citizen. The dichotomy is then diminished.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-08 22:54
Agreed. As for "People put their blinders on" this is an aspect but not the main aspect since as you cite from the interview, "it is not something that is necessarily out there [about how much of a war criminal Rice is]." So it's not as much that people are putting blinders on as it is that they have not been told the truth about Rice's role by media and gov't.
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0 # katgrl 2014-05-09 21:16
I think sometimes that if people were told the truth they would still want Rice to attend their child's graduation due to her being famous. Even though there would be some that would protest with their children, their would still be a handful that would rather have their child's school published and recognized by a figure like Rice. Even though they have not acted in such a horrid manner as Rice, celebrities are constantly behaving and acting in ways that harm others and our society but yet are held in such high respect due to them being famous. So currently people may not have those blinders on but if revealed the truth would they follow what is right or continue to live life as though nothing is wrong going on in government or rationalize why Rice may have committed these acts?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-09 21:24
Here we have an outstanding example at Rutgers of students and faculty successfully organizing to stop the honoring of a war criminal. Why would you talk about how a few might want to have done otherwise?
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0 # katgrl 2014-05-09 21:45
I think it's amazing that these students and faculty have made a stance and saw through with taking action. I am not taking any credit away from them. I am just pointing out that yes people may not have blinders on but if the truth is revealed there are people who would rather put those blinders on regardless of what is right.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-09 22:10
Ok, the kind of people you're describing exist. We can find them very easily in daily life. But they aren't the ones who define our society because they aren't the ones who do anything of note. The people who are capable of rising above that and raising everybody's sights, now those are the ones who can alter history's course. And that's what we need more than anything at this point and who we really ought to be focusing on, including among our selves and what we can do to rise to that occasion rather than bemoaning or complaining about the more backward elements.
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0 # GIOVANNA SERRANO 2014-05-09 18:34
Like someone mentioned people really need to get a taste of what revolution is about. Us as students have an opportunity to learn and explore and question things that perhaps had never even thought about. What about the rest of the people out there who do not have the same opportunity to attend college? There needs to be more involvement from everyone. I feel that just reading articles and discussing things in class are not sufficient enough anymore.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-10 02:59
Quoting GIOVANNA SERRANO:
I feel that just reading articles and discussing things in class are not sufficient enough anymore.

So, that's a great intro to a call for people to participate in the "Where We Are in the Revolution" program on Sat., May 17th at 6 pm in LA and on other dates elsewhere. See "Where We Are in the Revolution" on this website for details.
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-05-10 05:30
Agree people are putting on their blinders as in this specific scenario with Condoleezza Rice, being such a public figure much of society really doesn’t know the truth behind Rice’s war crimes that were committed while serving as the Secretary of State. I do agree with some here that we need to really understand revolution more. Just as Rutgers students took a stance and protested not to have Rice be the speaker at the commencement and receive honorary law degree. These students rose and made one’s own voices heard. Reading articles and discussing in class is not sufficient enough however Dr. Loo has shared with his student to join the revolution in a program “Where we are in the Revolution.”
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-10 14:08
Like what you said, except the first phrase about people putting on their blinders. The second part of your first sentence is more true - that most people don't really know the truth about Rice.
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0 # vices 2014-05-10 07:34
It is interesting to see that the efforts people put in what they believe can actually make a difference. The fact that their protest worked gives hope to many more battles that can be won. Rice is in no way righteous, but it makes me wonder how these people come to office. Is the public really that blind enough to not see past the lies that officials they elect are telling them? It seems that inhumane acts are a trend that many government officials participate in. These officials are merely pawns in a corrupted government system. It is apparent that a revolution is required because it is not a mere coincidence that Bush and Obama commit atrocities. There must be a higher position of power pulling their strings.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-10 14:18
Quoting vices:
Is the public really that blind enough to not see past the lies that officials they elect are telling them?

In general, people can't see beneath official lies without assistance from whistleblowers, investigative journalists, activists, and scholars. To expect them to do so without such assistance and without training is naive. People need training to see beneath the surface and you can't blame them for not being able to without training and assistance. Why do so many commenters here find it necessary to continue to resort to this notion about "blinders" etc. as part of their otherwise good comments?
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0 # Jessica Ulloa 2014-05-10 21:42
Quoting vices:
It is interesting to see that the efforts people put in what they believe can actually make a difference. The fact that their protest worked gives hope to many more battles that can be won.


This comment concerns me. I have a very strong belief in people can change what the want as long as they begin to live their life in that change. I feel if students at CPP wanted to protest a speaker, this would happen as well. I find this to be inspiring as this can be our future. When one wants change, it is very likely that others do as well, but are afraid/intimida ted/don't care enough to do something about it. By participating in change and spreading the word of this we can all begin to see it happen.
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0 # draen 2014-05-12 01:28
I think this article really illustrates the effect people can have when they actually take a stand, even when they are faced with opposition. This article relates to the "Our Kitty Genovese Movement" in the way that even though it may seem hard or scary, as soon as someone speaks out against the majority, others will follow. This group faced a lot of opposition, but they did not falter and they stood their ground, and in the end, they succeeded. I think it is incredibly admirable.
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0 # thatdude 2014-05-12 01:34
It is what is shared by mainstream media that drives society's views and beliefs of government and its political leaders. As Dr. Loo has discussed with us on countless occasions, many people don't know what government is REALLY doing away from the cameras. A few examples such as Obama's kill list, or the extent of the torture that was going on in Iraq and Afghanistan or even that the Bush Administration literally spied on private phone lines around the country. Before this class these are the types of things that I didn't know were going on and now that I have heard about them it makes me more interested in the truth behind mainstream media. I like that the students protested and held their ground on this. This is the type of power that we as citizens have in numbers, we just have to come together and look past what the mainstream media is feeding us and see what the truth is beneath the surface.
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0 # draen 2014-05-12 01:36
Also, I thought it was interesting that the student brought up the point that a majority of society doesn't think that a revolution is possible. I think that this is largely true for our country. We see protests on the news that end largely in police brutality and major consequences. While the idea of a revolution may be present in many people, I think the news broadcasts of protests scares many people off. I hope that this story gets more attention from the media, because it may give others the push they need. However, for this very same reason, it seems unlikely that the story will receive much attention.
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0 # Lomonaco 2014-05-25 06:54
Remember that the media are controlled by a few and if the people in power do not want the public to know about it then it will not be shown. To find the truth we have to search for it.
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0 # FAVELA001 2014-06-12 04:08
Exactly, there are exactly 6 major companies that control the entirety of our media (excluding PBS and NPR)some of which aren't even media based. While these media outlets may show they story above, in what light are they showing it? For example, FOX news is known to have a conservative viewpoint and all of their content either reinforces that or discusses it in regards to conservative ideals. What kind of truth does that make it?
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0 # MarieB 2014-05-12 05:05
These students simply wished to give their own "stamp of approval" at their own graduation speech. They believed their guest speaker should represent someone from their school, and I can't believe there was no student body vote or information on who was speaking until a month before. This entire protest was to get students passionate about their rights and representation, which was ironically getting opressed as they fought for it. The students demonstrated for their rights of representation and free speech, and to be well informed on the subject they protested for takes a lot of research and understanding. This type of "corrupt" power is ingrained insofar as school systems, which proves "that we absolutely need to radically change society". The fact is simply that the society itself needs to "fundamentally change this kind of [stagnant] thinking". I really enjoyed how articulate the student was.
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0 # soad 2014-05-12 05:11
It's so great to know that these students who at first didn't know of what an awful person Condolezza Rice, did their research and started to protest her arrival at Rutgers. Student movements are the stepping stones of a revolution that we desperately need. This year President Obama will be giving the commencement speech at UC Irvine- he isn't the model political leader either. He has a kill list and has deported more people than President Bush. Although it's nice to say that "President Obama gave the commencement speech at my graduation" I don't think it's worth it. It's time for us to stand up against injustice done by OUR politicians.
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0 # Brandon Vildosola 2014-05-12 06:30
I found the article very moving in regards to how the particular student felt so strongly about the protest he/she was in, especially since we know that Condoleezza Rice pulled out of the commencement speech after she knew what was going on. It does seem like she did not want to have any debate or any problems with the students there especially after they learned about who she was and what she did. If the University President and Board of Governors disclosed the information that she was going to give the speech closer to the actual date, many students would not have even known about this nor have time to express their feelings towards this. I myself would have attended the protest if anything like that was happening here because it is important to stand up for what a large group of people actually believe in and if you are part of those who actually do anything about it, you could have started something that may eventually lead to something bigger.
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0 # Guy 2014-05-12 06:59
The student they interviewed is really on point on what we have been led to believe, that nothing can be changed unless we go through politics. It was quite exciting that the students found out that there is more to it then just having a war criminal being honored. Nothing is as simple as it seems. Everything people in power are doing is connected in one way or another. The less noise we make as citizens the easier it is to quiet us down. It seems that a lot of us should put ourselves out there to make some noise in order for anything to start changing.
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0 # minnie 2014-05-24 01:06
I really liked this statement that you made: "The less noise we make as citizens the easier it is to quiet us down." I believe these words can be extremely motivating to others, especially when it comes to protests.
This reminded me of a statement I read in Chapter 8 of the Beckett and Sasson book in regards to reasons why police focus their efforts of their crackdown on drugs in minority communities. The authors claim that “…residents of inner-city neighborhoods tend to be politically powerless. Unlike their counterparts in upscale suburbs and on college campuses, they are unlikely to cause headaches for police and local politicians when arrested” (Chambliss 1994). We are students on college campuses and I believe that our voices can be heard about political issues that concern us. It will cause headaches for police and local politicians if students on a college campus were to get arrested.
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0 # BBalty 2014-05-13 06:05
The student draws attention to one of the biggest issues we have in America when she mentions, “people are raised to believe their entire life that a revolution isn’t possible, that it’s not going to actually change things.” Everywhere I see this is the common belief everyone shares, we can all acknowledge that our country is far from perfect but everyone feels that nothing can change it. In Dr. Loo’s article “Political power and “human nature”” he describes why it is we think that way and how to address these issues. Only after properly informing the public on what is actually going on inside our government and disentangling the views they have derived from the government can we being to start a revolution. The students at Rutgers University and this website truly inspire me and give me hope that change can happen.
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0 # Christine Lopez 2014-05-18 21:09
The Rutgers University protest against Codoleeza Rice was formed just one month before the commencement ceremony. It was formed by students, these students were passionate in there. They were threatened to get expelled from the university. They did not give up they had a formed silent protest.
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0 # Sherlock 2014-05-19 05:17
I know people talk about freedom of ideas and expressions at colleges. Condoleezza Rice may have a Doctorate and may have been a Secretary of State, but sometimes the students should stand up for what they believe in. This protest speaks for itself.
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0 # minnie 2014-05-24 00:13
This article was a topic that was brought up at the discussion about the event in Los Angles event after class on Thursday. I agreed with the girl who commented on this protest in that she liked that students were organizing seminars, educating people about who Condoleezza Rice was and grabbing peoples’ attention and curiosity about why they were organizing and protesting. Capturing people’s attention and educating them was one of the ways that students spread the word on campus, which I believe is so important in gathering numbers for any organization and/or protest. I believe that she also suggested that the Revolution Club have a meeting place and time each week to talk about issues of concern in order to spark curiosity from other students.
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0 # minnie 2014-05-24 00:35
I think that this successful protest is an example to others that shows how change and Revolution is possible. I, for one, am guilty of exactly what was talked about in the discussion after class on Thursday in regards to how some people don’t believe that revolution is possible. The Revolution seems like an amazing cause, but it is hard for me to imagine sometimes how a radical revolution would be possible. For me at least, I recognize that my inexperience with organization, protesting, and educating myself more about the revolution are a few of the reasons as to why I have not yet understood how this revolution can be made possible. When I read this article, however, the students’ peaceful and successful protest encouraged me to think, “Hey, if those students can make a change, I can do it too.”
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0 # Lomonaco 2014-05-25 17:13
There are so many people who are famous, but for what? Just because someone has a big name does not mean they are a quality person. Having a protest with 50 people made a difference. If more people would stand up in this country so much more could be accomplished. The government uses coercion and force to try to keep the public calm. If you are a rabble rouser the government takes steps to silence you. They don’t want the truth to be told.
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12