Main content

Robert Birgeneau protest materials


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

At the Class of 2014's commencement ceremony, William Bowen, former president of Princeton University, used his time as a commencement speaker to chastise Haverford students, drawing mixed feelings from the commencement audience. Bowen spoke out against a list of demands that over 40 Haverford students and three faculty members signed and sent to Robert Birgeneau, who was supposed to speak at the ceremony. The letter to Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, detailed the Haverford community's disagreement with how Birgeneau handled a protest at UC Berkeley. The 2011 protest resulted in police using force against nonviolent protestors. The students and faculty members who signed the letter asked Birgeneau to meet 9 demands before speaking at their graduation, some including taking full responsibility for the events of the protest, paying reparations to the victims, and writing a letter to Haverford students explaining what he has learned from the incident. Birgeneau declined these demands and withdrew as a commencement speaker. In Bowen's commencement speech, he called the actions of the Haverford protestors "immature" and "arrogant." Though Bowen received a standing ovation at the ceremony, many students and faculty members were angered by his speech.

This collection consists of two fliers and two buttons related to Robert Birgeneau's presence at Haverford College's commencement in 2014 as well as correspondence between Haverford students and alumni and President Dan Weiss regarding William Bowen's commencement speech.. The posters advertise a "Community Forum to discuss Robert Birgenau's presence at Commencement" that took place on Thursday, May 8, 2014. One poster features a quote from Birgeneau and a photo of Martin Luther King Jr. The other poster features a quote from former Haverford president Dan Weiss and a photo of the Berkely protest. The buttons have "Ask me about Robert Birgeneau" printed on them. The correspondence consists of a letter from Haverford students and alumni to President Dan Weiss expressing their disappointment with William Bowen's speech at commencement and Weiss's response.

Processed by Maia Schallie, completed April 2023.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Maia Schwallie
Finding Aid Date
August, 2023
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17)

Collection Inventory

Robert Birgeneau protest materials, 2014.
Box 1

Print, Suggest