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Activists prod U of M to cancel Condoleezza Rice speech

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A group of student and faculty activists at the University of Minnesota is goading U of M organizers to cancel a speech by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice planned for April 17 at Northrup Auditorium, the Star Tribune reports.

The activists object to her involvement in the war policies of the George W. Bush administration, and they object to her $150,000 speaking fee, the newspaper reports.

A vote is scheduled for next week in the University Senate on a resolution urging the U of M to rescind the invitation to Rice. Math professor William Messing introduced the resolution and told the Star Tribune he is ­“cautiously optimistic” it could win broader support.

Disinviting Rice would be inconsistent with the university's goal of promoting dialogue, Andrea Cournoyer, a spokeswoman for the Humphrey School of Public Policy, which organized the event, told the Star Tribune. She said Rice was “one of the most influential and powerful people in the world.”

Rice's fee will come from donor funds made to the lecture series endowment and the Carlson Family Foundation, Cournoyer told the newspaper.

Rice is scheduled to speak not about war, but civil rights, sharing "her perspectives on the progress achieved and challenges ahead in efforts to promote civil rights for all Americans," according to the U of M. The talk, part of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Distinguished Carlson Lecture Series, is free and open to the public, although a reserved ticket is required. More details here.

Rice this week said American leaders should resist the temptation to become weary of war, according to a report of her remarks at a fundraiser, the Washington Post reported.

She accused the Obama administration of significantly weakening the United States' position in the world, the conservative Weekly Standard reported. “Right now, there’s a vacuum,” she told the crowd of more than 2,000 at the National Republican Congressional Committee event in Washington, D.C. “There’s a vacuum because we’ve decided to lower our voice. We’ve decided to step back. We’ve decided that if we step back and lower our voice, others will lead, other things will fill that vacuum.”

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