Faculty and Students Distribute Memo on Waterboarding at Graduation
A “Graduation Handout” is being passed around by a few faculty and students at the graduation events today. The handout refers to past articles on the issue of waterboarding by Professors from BC and other law schools. During the LSA forum on the commencement speaker, students expressed sharply different opinions on any protests at the graduation, particularly after the student protests at Condoleezza Rice’s speech at the undergraduate commencement. Here is an excerpt from the handout:
to Boston College Law School’s Commencement Ceremony!
We’re glad you’re here… to celebrate three years of accomplishments by a great group of students, the Class of 2008!
But, we —a large and diverse group of concerned faculty, students and alumni—feel that it is important that you, our students’ families and friends, recognize that our Law School, by inviting Attorney-General Michael Mukasey, does not condone the policies and interpretations of law on torture and extreme interrogation methods that Mr. Mukasey has repeatedly presented for the current Administration.
We regret the need to express our concerns on this matter, but the invitation raises important issues of principle, and challenges our school’s values and aspirations for its students and the profession. We feel it necessary and proper to note these serious concerns.
Attorney-General Mukasey has had a distinguished legal career as a lawyer and judge, and as Attorney-General he has repaired many of the deficits created in the Department of Justice by his immediate predecessors. It is an honor to have an Attorney-General of the United States at our Commencement.
While he has been Attorney-General, however, the single most noted legal position represented by Mr. Mukasey in his public appearances and statements is his consistent refusal to acknowledge the illegality—under international and domestic law—of waterboarding and other extreme forms of interrogation practiced in the past by the current Administration.
Given his position on extreme interrogations it was startling to concerned faculty, students, and alumni that our school had invited Mr. Mukasey to speak at our celebration. In response, on March 11, 2008, more than twenty faculty members sent a letter inviting Mr. Mukasey to come here at some other time, other than our Commencement celebration, to discuss the important issues of law and morality that the current discussions of waterboarding have raised.
The March 11th letter sent from BCLS to Mr. Mukasey said, in part—
…We realize that you face complex professional difficulties in your position as Attorney General. We are very concerned, however, that 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 BC’s educational mission.
We are committed to having our law school serve as a forum for a robust exchange of ideas and would welcome you as a speaker in circumstances other than the Commencement….
We believe, however, that your role as the Commencement speaker will suggest to our student body and to the profession that our school’s actions are not consistent with its expressed professional and educational ideals.
We note that neither the faculty nor students were consulted in making the choice of a commencement speaker.
That letter never received either an acknowledgment or an answer.”