We ask that Fordham University choose an alternative commencement speaker.
  • Petitioned Fordham University Students

This petition was delivered to:

Fordham University Students

We ask that Fordham University choose an alternative commencement speaker.

    1. Petition by

      a k

      New York, NY

We do not agree with the selection of John O. Brennan as the commencement speaker for Fordham University’s class of 2012. As a member of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) during the Bush-era, Brennan has been allegedly associated with prisoner abuse and torture for the “War on Terror.”

There is no primary evidence solidifying these links due to the CIA's lack of informational transparency. However, Americans ranging from congressmen to respected writers have questioned Brennan's ethics professionally due to these dishonorable accusations.

In light of recent events regarding bigotry, Brennan's controversial background and implication in prisoner abuse, makes his role as commencement speaker increasingly inappropriate. By overlooking these glaring issues regarding Brennan, Fordham University is perpetuating a culture of silence which has come into light because of the recent bigoted epithets found at both campuses.

Lastly, by turning a blind eye to these accusations regarding Brennan's ethics we, the students of Fordham University, will be transgressing the Jesuit values that we have learned to uphold. For example, the tenet of "cura personalis" teaches Fordham students to approach individuals with a deep respect (Fordham’s Jesuit Tradition). In addition, the Judeo-Christian definition of justice encourages students to “live in right with others." The objects of Brennan’s alleged torture and prisoner abuse programs have not been “deeply respected” and have not been provided with “justice.”

According to Fordham University’s official website, Father McShane said, “we believe that students have to be invited to wrestle with the great ethical issues of their time. We want them to be bothered by the realization that they don’t know everything and bothered by injustice” (Fordham’s Jesuit Tradition). We, the students of Fordham University, feel the need to “wrestle” with the “ethical issues” behind Brennan’s appointment as the 2012 commencement speaker because we are “bothered by injustice.”

We do not seek to invalidate Brennan's outstanding twenty-five years of service in the CIA or his expertise in counter-terrorism. However, Brennan's alleged work during the Bush-era in conjunction with the recent bigotry at our university invalidates the Jesuit tenets that we, seniors, learned these past four years at Fordham University. As a result, we collectively stand in protest to John O. Brennan’s participation in the class of 2012 commencement ceremony.

Works Cited

"The Black Sites." A Reporter at Large: : The New Yorker. 13 Aug. 2007. Web. .

"Fordham’s Jesuit Tradition.” Fordham's Jesuit Tradition. Web. 18 Mar. 2012. .

"John O. Brennan." History Commons. 6 Aug. 2007. Web. .

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 100 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Heather Bisson NEW YORK, NY
      • over 2 years ago

      As a current student at Fordham I believe this directly contradicts the ideals embraced by this stellar Jesuit institution, which prides itself on commitment to community and ethics here and abroad.

    • Andrew Clarke BALDWIN, NY
      • over 2 years ago

      Res ipsa loquitor.

    • Dr. Robert Magliola UNION CITY, NJ
      • over 2 years ago

      The Fordham Jesuits by their invitation are betraying Catholic ethics and even their own heroic Jesuit strugglers for justice around the world. Shame! I taught abroad for many years and will spread this BAD news so Catholics abroad can be warned.

    • Betty Thompson TAKOMA PARK, MD
      • over 2 years ago

      I am a proud Fordham alumna, and I am NOT proud that the board of trustees has scheduled John Brennan as 2012 commencement speaker and awardee. I support the students who will stand in protest of this choice. The university's stance on this could affect my annual giving plans.

    • Daniel Yacovino BROOKLYN, NY
      • over 2 years ago

      Fordham cannot continue spouting about Jesuit ideals and cura personalis while, on the other side of their mouth, making deals with someone with a dubious-at-best human rights record. Having Mr. Brennan speak to this outgoing class is both insulting and ignorant and greatly impacts my likelihood to ever donate to Fordham in the future. Get your act together, Fordham.


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