Haverford College Commencement Speaker William G. Bowen Blastes Student Protestors’ Approach as Both “Immature” and “Arrogant”
College commencement speaker blasts students for intolerance as “Immature” and “Arrogant”.
At the commencement speech on Sunday at Haverford College, William G. Bowen, the former president of Princeton, used the occasion to slam the students who had mounted a campaign against another speaker who had been scheduled to appear but withdrew amid the controversy. To their faces, he called the intolerant 40 or so radical leftist students and three radical professors who had forced an honorary degree recipient to withdraw from the event “immature and arrogant” to the standing ovation of the graduates.
In a surprising move, a commencement speaker at Haverford College on Sunday used the celebratory occasion to deliver a sharp rebuke to students who had mounted a campaign against another speaker who had been scheduled to appear but withdrew amid the controversy.
William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton and a nationally respected higher education leader, called the student protestors’ approach both “immature” and “arrogant” and the subsequent withdrawal of Robert J. Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California Berkeley, a “defeat” for the Quaker college and its ideals.
Bowen’s remarks to an audience of about 2,800 that gave him a standing ovation added a new twist to commencement speaker controversies playing out increasingly on college campuses across the nation. Bowen faced no opposition, but chose to defend a fellow speaker who was targeted, calling the situation “sad” and “troubling.”
Bowen also blasted the senior student organizer: who called the withdrawal of Robert J. Birgeneau from the commencement a minor victory.
Bowen also took aim at one of the student leaders of the protests, graduating senior Michael Rushmore, who called Birgeneau’s withdrawal from commencement “a minor victory.
“It represents nothing of the kind,” Bowen asserted. “In keeping with the views of many others in higher education, I regard this outcome as a defeat, pure and simple, for Haverford – no victory for anyone who believes, as I think most of us do, in both openness to many points of view and mutual respect.”