An upcoming appearance by President George W. Bush at a Toronto, Canada, university has been cancelled following protests by students and faculty, alike.
The evangelical Christian college, which initially scheduled Bush to speak at the September 20 invite-only breakfast at Tyndale University, will apparently not be rescheduling.
The former U.S. president initially was set to address a group of about 150 people. But curent and former students and at least two staff members, outraged at the prospect of a Bush campus visit, made a major ruckus.
On Wednesday -- the same day the decision to cancel the president's appearance was made -- three former students put together a petition urging Tyndale to cancel his address. The day before, a class valedictorian joined a professor to speak out against Bush's breakfast talk and another staff member resigned out of protest.
Some dubbed Bush a "war criminal," while others held that the event was being planned as a ploy to attract money to the school. TheStar.com reports:
Tyndale supporter Prem Watsa, chief executive of Fairfax Financial Holdings and sometimes referred to as “Canada’s Warren Buffett,” was sponsoring the event, which the administration said was intended to raise the university’s profile.
In invoking the name of Jesus, a poster protesting the event reads:
"...no amount of new money can justify profiting from a former figurehead whose policies led to the murder of thousands of innocent civilians while invoking the name of Jesus. This is unacceptable."
In a public statement, the university wrote the following announcement on its web site: "Unfortunately, due to scheduling change, the breakfast on September 20th 2011 has been cancelled." This brief response neither mentions Bush's name nor does it provide more information on a potential event reschedule.
Just two days before the event's cancellation, Tyndale University President Gary Nelson admitted that Bush's appearance would come with debate. Still he defended the event, saying:
“We’re a university that tries to present all sides and be open to different opinions. One of the big issues we have in the 21st century is the inability to dialogue, from one side or the other. So if we can’t do that here, we’re in trouble. Dialogue is critical right now.”
Regardless of the reasons, diverse debate and opinion isn't on the university's schedule this go-around.