The protesters left peacefully after an ultimatum by school administrators. Outside the building, some of them joined about 100 others carrying signs and shouting slogans criticizing Miss Rice's role in starting the second
war. Meanwhile, 350 faculty members voted to oppose the campus appearance. So
far, the school president is sticking with the speaker selection, citing
academic freedom and free speech ideals as his justification.
University officials had a right to invite anyone they chose to speak at the school.
Students and faculty had a right to peacefully protest the selection.
The geezer fully supports those rights. What is wrong is the fact that Miss Rice will be paid $35,000 for her half-hour speech. Like many other universities,
Rutgers has been going
through tough financial times. Economy measures in recent years included
freezing the salaries of thousands of employees and many program reductions.
That Miss Rice's fee will be paid by private donations to the university's foundation doesn't make it right. That the fee is modest on the scale of commencement awards, which range from about $2,500 to more than $100,000, doesn't make it right. All commencement speaking fees are wrong. That money could be better spent helping needy students with expenses or supporting essential academic programs.
Any potential speaker with a sense of public service responsibility should be willing to honor a graduating class with his or her words of wisdom for nothing more than travel expenses. An honorary degree (and Miss Rice will get one of those, too) of course is a justifiable speaker reward.
Rather than fixing the problem,
has raised the ante. Back in 2011 it paid the commencement speaker only $30,000.
That wasn't newsworthy, but when students used $32,000 of their activity fees to
pay for an appearance by Snooki, infamous as a vulgar sex kitten on the " Jersey Shore"
television show, Rutgers got a dose of media
attention. Snooki told her audience to "party hard," among other
Paying a sex object more than a commencement speaker perhaps is justified. I've fidgeted through several lengthy graduation ceremonies. I can't remember a word any of the distinguished speakers uttered. I probably would have paid much more attention to Snooki.