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Swarthmore College students send conservative commencement speaker packing

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Swarthmore College students successfully ran off former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick — whom they termed a "war criminal" — from serving as commencement speaker at the upcoming graduation ceremony.

Mr. Zoellick was also due to receive an honorary degree from the school and now that's been cancelled, too.

He served as Deputy Secretary of State under President Bush in 2005 and held strong pro-Iraq War view. Students said that violated the school's Quaker roots and image, The Daily Caller reported, so they gathered last week to discuss his invitation to speak.

Some of their comments, as reported by The Daily Caller: Mr. Zoellick is a "war criminal" with anti-"Swarthmore values." In an online article, a student also contested Mr. Zoellick's honorary degree.

"I, and many others, are opposed to Zoellick's honorary degree for a number of reasons," the student wrote, The Daily Caller reported. "His tenure at the World Bank and as U.S. Trade Representative are among them. So is his time in the private sector, when he worked at Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae — two institutions that would later become infamous for their role in the 2008 financial collapse. So is his role in helping build an ideological foundation for the Iraq War. His whole career has been built on one morally dubious enterprise after another."

Mr. Zoellick's response?

He opted against speaking at the school and against accepting the honorary degree, The Daily Caller reported.

"In his words, 'I don't want to disrupt what should be a special day for the graduates, their families and friends. Nor do I have an interest in participating in an unnecessarily controversial event,' " said Swarthmore President Rebecca Chopp in The Daily Caller report.

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