Madeleine Albright. Official portrait of Secretary of State Albright via Wikimedia

The prospect of having former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright deliver the commencement address at Scripps College in Claremont on May 14 is giving rise to strong opposition from some students and teachers at the all-women school.

Albright, the first woman to serve as U.S. secretary of State, was booked by senior class president Jennie Xu, but some of Xu’s classmates are denouncing Albright as a “war criminal,” the Los Angeles Times reported. Others said they were outraged by Albright’s remark that they could wind up in “a special place in hell” if they didn’t support Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the White House.

What’s more, 28 professors vowed not to share the stage with Albright when seniors don their sage green caps and gowns May 14, The Times reported.

“People have a right to state their views,” Albright has said in response, according to The Times. “I also think they have a duty to listen to people that they might disagree with.”

Albright is also headlining graduations this year at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the University of Denver, where her selection was welcomed without controversy, The Times reported.

At Scripps, some lament that the choice of Albright was a missed opportunity to advance the conversation about diversity by having a woman of color deliver the commencement address.

Human rights are also a sticking point for some students and the 28 professors who pledged not to participate in the official commencement procession. They cited Albright’s foreign policy role during the Clinton administration, when U.S.-led sanctions were blamed for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children and the United Nations declined to intervene in the Rwandan genocide.

“She supported several policies that led to the deaths of millions of people,” the professors wrote in a joint letter. Even so, they said they would still attend the graduation ceremony as spectators to support their students.

—City News Service

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