PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Dom Giordano spoke with Dustin Byerly, a spokesman from Goddard College, on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT.

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Goddard will have Mumia-Abu Jamal issue their commencement address this weekend to graduates.

Byerly said that it was Abu-Jamal that the students themselves wanted to speak to the graduating class.

“Goddard’s reputation and history is based on the fact that we have always empowered our students and put them at the center of their learning experience here at Goddard. The graduating students were the ones that decided and determined that they wanted to have Mumia, a graduate of the college, as their commencement speaker,” Byerly explained.

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He compared their decision to another commencement speaker that attracted protests.

“Condoleezza Rice was recently invited to Norwich University, which is a military academy right down the street from us, the oldest military academy in the country, and that there was a good deal of controversy around her speech there from people who are objecting to the war or object to the things that had happened. At the end of the day, it really provided an opportunity to talk about issues that are important, and that we don’t agree on and that we need to continue to discuss.”

Byerly said that by choosing Abu-Jamal, the school hopes to open up different avenues of discussion.

“Colleges invite commencement speakers who are sometimes controversial and who may generate negative responses among in members of the community and out of that, potentially, can come conversations that lead us to have a better understanding of the issues at hand.”

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