Haverford College’s commencement speaker, former Princeton president William Bowen, slammed the “immature” and “arrogant” protest that got the originally planned speaker, former Berkeley chancellor Robert Birgeneau, to withdraw — and Bowen got a standing ovation for it.
Bowen surprised the 2,800 attendees when he rebuked the Left’s latest commencement protest and called a ”defeat” for the Quaker college and its ideals.
Birgeneau, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, from 2004 to 2013, withdrew from speaking at last weekend’s commencement exercises after a handful of Haverford students and faculty members protested Berkeley’s treatment of Occupy protesters during his tenure.
A group of 50 students and professors mailed the former chancellor a letter that called him to meet nine criteria before speaking, including issuing a public apology for police action at the Occupy protest in 2011.
“I am disappointed that those who wanted to criticize Birgeneau’s handling of events at Berkeley chose to send him such an intemperate list of ‘demands,’” Bowen said. “In my view, they should have encouraged him to come and engage in a genuine discussion, not to come, tail between his legs, to respond to an indictment that a self-chosen jury had reached without hearing counter-arguments.”
Bowen said Birgeneau’s withdrawal was no “minor victory,” but a “defeat, pure and simple, for Haverford.” He also criticized Birgeneau for “[responding] intemperately, failing to make proper allowance for the immature, and, yes, arrogant inclinations of some protestors.”