Attorney General causes controversy at B.C.

Twenty-two faculty members of Boston College Law School signed a petition asking U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to rescind his decision to speak at the school’s 2008 commencement ceremony, according to the March 23 edition of The Boston Globe.

p. Faculty members expressed their displeasure concerning his role as speaker in a March 11 letter, citing the controversy surrounding his unwillingness to publicly declare waterboarding a form of torture.

p. In the letter, the faculty told Mukasey: “Your role in the current controversy regarding the legality of waterboarding has made you a symbol of administration policies that conflict with basic principles of international and domestic law, the ideals of Boston College Law School, and the Jesuit principles that underlie Boston College’s educational mission.”

p. When the school first made the announcement that Mukasey had been chosen as speaker in late January, the idea was well received, but as time passed, the general opinion toward Mukasey’s presence began to sour.

p. By Feb. 1, the Facebook group, “Waterboarding IS torture,” had formed. Founder Dan Roth wrote: “Our Mission Statement reads: ‘We encourage our students to develop their own individual commitment to others and to explore those themes which are central to the Jesuit tradition … How these high principles can be reconciled with calling him the ultimate role model for the Class of 2008 is beyond comprehension.”

p. After the initial student movement, the faculty joined the protest, citing many of the same concerns as the students, as well as the fact that students and faculty were not consulted in the process of choosing a commencement speaker. Nate Kenyon, the school’s director of marketing and communications, explained that the mere opportunity to have the Attorney General speak made input from the student body unnecessary in the decision-making process.

p. While many students and faculty oppose having Mukasey as speaker, a significant number of others are in support of his appearance. Guillaume Buell, president of the school’s chapter of the Federalist Society, said that he was “ashamed that some students and faculty are actively organizing against his appearance.”

p. The school’s dean, John Garvey, has recently made efforts to speak with the class of 2008 in response to the controversy, and the school’s Law Students Association held an open forum to discuss the matter. These actions, however, have done little to satisfy student and faculty concerns.

p. It is unclear at this time whether or not Mukasey will speak as planned at the school’s commencement ceremony in May.


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