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.’ 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.
William G. Bowen, the former president of Princeton University • Scolding people who disagreed with Robert J. Birgeneau, the former UC Berkeley chancellor that Bowen replaced as Haverford College’s commencement speaker, on Sunday. Birgeneau stepped down as speaker as a direct result of controversy related to his handling of protesters at Berkeley in 2011. The protesters set demands on Birgeneau, sending him a letter with nine conditions that they expected him to meet as commencement speaker. (Obviously, he stayed home.)
But Bowen didn’t give Birgeneau a pass, either, stating during the commencement speech: “I think that Birgeneau, in turn, responded intemperately, failing to make proper allowance for the immature, and, yes, arrogant inclinations of some protestors. Aggravated as he had every right to be, I think he should be with us today.”