UMass and Andrew Card

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst is making a damaging and lasting mistake.  As an alumn, I feel a special responsibility to speak out against this regretful decision.

UMass is going to give Mr. Card an honorary degree.  Thankfully, students and faculty are doing the right thing and protesting.  The language UMass officials are using is problematic (From the Boston Globe article):

“The award is going to be presented to Mr. Card,” said Bill Wright, a spokesman for UMass president Jack Wilson. “He has performed distinguished public service.”

This glosses over his complicity in the run up to Iraq, and in every scandal he’s assisted the Bush administration in perpetrating.  His role in the wiretapping scandal, for instance, has recently been making news.

Just like their apparent idealogical heros, the university administration is refusing to change course:

Last week members of the campus community met with Stephen P. Toco, the Chairman of the UMASS Trustees, and voiced their displeasure.  He refuses to rescind the invitation.

In response, students and faculty have begun to hold and organize protests against Card’s degree.

If you are present employee of UMASS, a student, or alum, please sign this petition expressing your disagreement with the UMASS administration’s choice.

The University is being stubborn about an issue that will affect the value of my degree, the university’s moral standing, and its relationship to future, current, and past students.

Card’s laughable attempts at smoothing this all over has met with a measured response from faculty (emphasis mine):

Card suggested we should have called him first to ask him about his “side of the story” before dragging his name through the mud. We appreciated his willingness to talk to a couple of UMass professors, but this is the same man who is currently refusing to testify in front of the Congressional House Government and Oversight Committee about his knowledge of the leak in the Valerie Plame case.

This is also the same man who played a central role in an administration that has acknowledged violating domestic and international law and fundamentally misrepresenting the truth for political gain.

It takes astonishing rhetorical magic to transform the very definition of a political act – falsifying evidence to “market” an ideologically driven war deemed illegal by the international community – into a personal matter. Honoring a public servant most recognized for his role in misleading the public about the war in Iraq is a deeply political decision and, unfortunately for Mr. Card, the UMass community is not buying his magic marketing tricks this time.

The degree is more than an acknowledgment of the man, it is an acceptance of his actions.  To give Mr. Card an honorary degree is to leave honor and morality far behind, and to trample over the opinions of the community that makes UMass a viable institution of higher education.  It is an abuse of the power entrusted to the university administration and trustees.

No degree for Card.  Sign the petition, join the facebook group for updates, and if you are in the area near graduation day, protest!

8 Responses

  1. This is an outrage.

    Card belongs in a Federal prison for war crimes — not receiving an honorary degree.

  2. I agree, an outrage.
    I signed the petition and thanks for providing it.

  3. Chris and Mirth, thanks for your support!

  4. Thanks for covering this. I wrote to the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor to express my outrage at this choice. What a black mark on UMass. I’ll be at the protest next Friday.

    Patricia (UMass Ed.D ’89)

  5. Petition No2Card:
    Note: They’ll hit you up for a contribution after you sign, but it’s optional.

    The University of Massachusetts Amherst, plans on awarding an honorary degree to Andrew Card at the Graduate School commencement on May 25, 2007. Card is the former White House Chief of Staff from 2000 to 2006 under President Bush and head of the White House Iraq Group. Many at UMass feel that Card is not eligible for a degree according to University of Massachusetts Policy Doc. T93-060, “Policy on Awarding Honorary Degrees,” which makes “only persons of great accomplishment and high ethical standards who exemplify the ideals of the University of Massachusetts” eligible for such an honorary degree.

    You can sign the petition by clicking this link:

    This will only take a few seconds, but you will be helping to make a powerful statement to Umass

  6. Patricia, thanks! Although with Lombardi gone, it looks like we just have the President and the Trustees to write to now.
    I signed the petition, thanks for the link Heather!

  7. I personally think the way you treated an invited guest was atrocious. Every faculty member on the stage that held up a placard or took part in the demonstration should be immediately put on unpaid administrative leave and censured. Here in the real world CEO’s invite Bill Clinton and Rudy G to speak at corporate functions, are you morons going to stand up when you get a job in the real world and act that way, I think not otherwise armed guards will watch you pack your desk and escort you to the front door.

    You don’t have to agree with the man’s politics but being disrespectful and rude to invited guest is uncalled for whether they be democrat, republican, independent, etc.

  8. Rick, you could not be more wrong if you tried.
    From your argument, it doesn’t look like you did.

    “Real world”? “Corporate America”? “Disrespect”?

    Attacking academia as apart from the “real world” is tired and ineffective. We are discussing adults here, not petulant children.

    I would not look to corporate america for cues on freedom of expression! That closed and paranoid environment is hardly something to emulate.

    As for disrespect, that came from the university president and trustees who ignored the clear will of their community in granting this degree. It presumed to speak for them in support of the Bush administration. It was more than our right, it was our obligation to correct that. This was not simply inviting someone to speak, it was conferring official recognition on a man who helped Bush sell a war of choice, and helped him make his authoritarian view of justice and the executive more of a reality.

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