Former presidential advisor Karl Rove will speak with students at Choate Rosemary Hall prep school in Wallingford Monday.Â Rove was originally scheduled to address graduating seniors at their 2008 commencement, but that changed after a firestorm of protest.
The January announcement that Karl Rove would be Choateâ€™s graduation speaker sparked an immediate outcry by students and parents.Â Debates began online and in local newspapers.Â Choateâ€™s student paper welcomed Rove as a guest speaker on-campus,Â but felt he was, â€œunfit to deliver a graduation addressâ€ Â
â€œA graduation speaker should inspire usâ€ students wrote. â€œMore importantly he should represent the values of the school and serve as a role model for the graduates as they enter the adult world.Â What kind of message does hosting Mr. Rove send to the student body?â€
Headmaster Edward Shanahan answered. In a Hartford Courant opinion piece calledÂ â€œRove Deserves to be Heardâ€.Â Â Shanahan said that educational institutions should, in his words,Â â€œbe a place for the open exchange of ideasâ€ and that schools like Choate should â€œnot hesitate to bring before our students people who stimulate those ideas, even people espousing opinions with which we may passionately disagreeâ€.
But citing concerns that protests might disrupt graduation exercises, Choate later announced that Rove would visit the school â€œin a setting outside the constraints of a formal commencementâ€. Todayâ€™s visit is closed to the public and to media.
Karl Rove is the former Deputy White House Chief of Staff. He played a key role in developing US policy in Iraq and has admitted to being a source in the leak of the identity of former CIA officer Valerie Plame, though he didnâ€™t name her.Â Rove resigned from the White House last August as he was being investigated by the Office of Special Counsel for his role in the firing of US attorneys.