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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Students Oppose Fleischer Ceremony

Author: [no author name found]

We, as members of the Middlebury College community, and as proponents of peace and diplomacy in the world, respectfully urge the College to reconsider its commitment to present White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer '82 with a Distinguished Alumni Award. While we recognize and respect Fleischer's achievements, at this time we feel that felicitating him with this award is inappropriate given the current national debate over a possible war in Iraq. Consequently, the College's decision to award Fleischer is an extremely sensitive one, and we especially object to the fact that Middlebury students, faculty and staff were not consulted prior to the announcement of this invitation.
In his capacity as press secretary for the Bush administration, Fleischer is the spokesperson for an unwise and unjust military action against Iraq, as well as for a media campaign of misinformation and scare tactics.
As recently as Oct. 2, the New York Times wrote that Fleischer had "used the podium to encourage a coup, suggesting that there were less expensive ways to accomplish the removal of Hussein than a military invasion." Fleischer was quoted in that article as saying, "The cost of a one-way ticket is substantially less than that. The cost of one bullet, if the Iraqi people take it on themselves, is substantially less than that." For the College to bestow this award on Fleischer, especially at this time, is to make a strong statement regarding its views on the policies and tactics of the Bush administration.
A university is a sanctuary for ideas and for robust debate on all issues. At a time when our nation is moving towards a pre-emptive strike against another sovereign nation, this role becomes especially important. But to bring Fleischer to this campus as a powerful, though controversial, political figure is altogether different from offering an award of excellence to an advocate for a political platform that many students strongly oppose. Bring Fleischer back to his alma mater for the purpose of debating with members of the community, but do not give him and more importantly, do not give the administration for which he works, the College's token of approval and support.
President McCardell, if you decide to go ahead with this ceremony, please be aware that there will be opposition, and that members of the Middlebury community will be holding an anti-war rally on this campus. As members of this community, we choose diplomacy and peace over weapons and war.

United For Peace: A Coalition of Concerned Middlebury College Staff, Students and Faculty