Haverford Graduation Speaker, Under Pressure, Bows Out

Police used batons on Occupy protesters under Robert J. Birgeneau.

Haverford College on Tuesday joined a growing list of schools to lose commencement speakers to protests from the left, when Robert J. Birgeneau, a former chancellor at the University of California, Berkeley, withdrew from this weekend’s event,” the New York Times reports. “Some students and faculty members at Haverford, a liberal arts college near Philadelphia, objected to the invitation to Mr. Birgeneau to speak and receive an honorary degree because, under him, the University of California police used batons to break up an Occupy protest in 2011. He first stated his support for the police, and then a few days later, saying that he was disturbed by videos of the confrontation, ordered an investigation.”

This follows Condi Rice‘s abdication of a graduate speaking slot at Rutgers following an outcry there, as well as this week’s petition at Rowan to keep Gov. Chris Christie from speaking there. At this pace, we’re an estimated three days away from no college ever having a graduation speaker ever again.


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  • The One

    I should be the One to decide.
    I can better decide how to allocate the world’s resources among my subjects.
    Don’t leave this allocation of resources to the fickle market, where billions of free people decide for themselves how they wish to participate. Billions of free people, acting of their own volition? How does that help me?
    I should be the One to decide.

  • Oliver

    Graduation ceremonies would be almost tolerable without speakers saying predictable things that don’t reflect reality for most of the poor saps in caps and gowns. The world is improving one speaker-trying-to avoid-political-faux-pas at a time.

  • Randy

    I guess if you want to be a bully, grow up to be a liberal.

    • nowlo

      I guess if you want to be a whiny, entitled idiot, grow up to be a conservative.

  • Astralmilkman

    These people make me SICK ! What happened to free speech ?
    Let’s see…… This guy was booted because police used batons ,
    Does anyone believe they’d protest Obama ? It’s not a discussion
    if only one side gets to speak ?

  • Camille Whittick

    Liberals preach tolerance as long as you think like them.

  • DAF

    I am a latte sipping, flag waving, bleeding heart liberal, and I find this appalling. It’s not like they invited Rush or Ann Coulter. These are serious people. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

  • nowlo

    Good. Free speech does not mean being entitled to a captive audience or an honorary degree. Mr. Birgeneau still has the freedom to say whatever he wants–just not at one private institution’s graduation ceremonies.

    For some context: Haverford is a Quaker college. Quakers have a long history of non-violent, generally progressive activism. It makes complete sense that students and faculty would object to this man being honored at their commencement. His words and deeds vis-a-vis Occupy fly in the face of Quaker values. It would be like a historically black college inviting someone who has defended white supremacy to be their graduation speaker.

    I’m just shocked nobody in Haverford’s adminstration realized this would be a problem before inviting him.

  • Poytszi

    The Right never really gets it. If you are a billionaire today in the USA, then it makes sense in being a conservative. However, if you just work for a living and pray that you get health benefits someday, then you need to really get real. As bad as unions can be, they are the ones that will protect your rights and ensure a living wage. No surprise that as unions dissappear, our middle class goes with them!

  • The IDEA of college is to teach people to think for themselves and maybe Actually question their long-ago formed opinions. This is a requirement to survive and be successful in the Outside world. Listen to what the other guy has to say, but for the love of good sense, Don’t censor them. Free speech begets More free speech. Have a student response or an editorial to criticize the speaker, or don’t offer an honorary degree as part of the commencement, but show some good manners and let other people express their opinions without being shouted down. All this narrow-mindedness is gonna be the death of a truly Free Exchange of ideas. I’ll bet the [very small number] folks who protest certain commencement speakers are the same folks who are Outraged at ‘free speech’ zones set up miles away from political conventions. People, you do Not have a Right not to be offended. Try acting like the adults you’ll soon be forced to be. It’s speech, it can’t hurt you unless You let it hurt you.