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William Bowen, former president of Princeton University, delivers his second commencement speech to the 2014 graduates of Haverford College, on May 18, 2014.
Clem Murray—The Philadelphia Inquirer/AP

A commencement speaker at Pennsylvania’s Haverford College called college students “immature” and “arrogant” Sunday for protesting a different speaker who ultimately withdrew.

Former Princeton University President William Bowen criticized those who protested Robert Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, the Associated Press reports.

Three professors and 40 students had campaigned against Birgeneau’s invitation to speak, citing his management of a 2011 campus clash between police and Occupy movement protestors that resulted in police using force against the demonstrators. The Haverford students and professors wanted Birgeneau to apologize, support victim payments and explain what he learned about the events in a letter to the student body.

Birgeneau refused to do so and canceled his Haverford visit, joining a group of college commencement speakers who backed out of speaking engagements this spring following protests from students.

“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, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “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’s speech was met with a standing ovation.


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