In a move even the left-leaning Daily Beast called “silly,” a Rutgers University protest earlier this month led to a former Secretary of State scrapping a planned speech on campus.
This is just one example of the shortsighted activism among some college students that results in less exposure to alternate and valuable points of view. For his part, former Princeton University President William Bowen has apparently had enough.
In a commencement speech at Haverford College this weekend, he called some in the audience “immature” for protests against a planned speaker who subsequently dropped out of the event.
Reports indicate dozens of students – along with three professors – joined in the protest against former University of California Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.
During a 2011 demonstration by leftist Occupy protesters on the UCB campus, police used force to disperse an unruly crowd. Those opposing Birgeneau’s appearance at Haverford – where he was set to receive an honorary degree – felt he did not respond appropriately to law enforcement’s action.
In order to make things right, the group contended, he would have to not only apologize and advocate reparations for the Occupy protesters; the former administrator would also be required to write a letter to Haverford College detailing what he learned from the experience.
Such an ultimatum obviously did not sit well with Birgeneau, who penned a letter to protesters – but not the one they demanded. In his email, he not only informed the school he would not be attending the ceremony; he also unequivocally objected to all of the protester’s conditions.
Speaking directly to the student body from which the protest arose, Bowen explained why the incident was damaging to the entire college.
“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,’” he 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 counterarguments.”
Bowen also defended the former chancellor for responding with his own discordant response.
He said the invited guest failed to “make proper allowance for the immature and, yes, arrogant inclinations of some protesters.”
The speaker added Birgeneau “had every right to be” upset, concluding “he should be with us today.”
In what could be seen as evidence the protesters represented a small – but vocal – minority of the school’s population, Bowen’s excoriation received an enthusiastic standing ovation from attendees.
Photo Credit: Jackbauerinvc (Creative Commons)
This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom