Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice withdrew from the Rutgers University commencement address she was scheduled to give later this month.
Rutgers students were critical of Rice’s involvement with alleged war crimes during the Bush administration, mirroring student protests at the University of Minnesota in April.
Last week, Rutgers students organized a sit-in outside university president Robert Barchi’s office.
Rice released a statement giving her reason for the retraction, the New York Times reported.
“Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” Rice said in her statement. “Rutgers’ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”
Despite students criticism of Rice, Barchi still supported the university’s decision to ask Rice to speak.
“We cannot protect free speech or academic freedom by denying others the right to an opposing view, or by excluding those with whom we may disagree. Free speech and academic freedom cannot be determined by any group. They cannot insist on consensus or popularity,” Barchi said in a letter written to the university community according to Fox News.