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The University of Denver is honoring former President George W. Bush with a humanitarian award come September, but a group of students and professors is demanding the school reverse course.
The university, currently embroiled in a mascot controversy that has drawn mockery across the city, invited Bush to give the keynote address Sept. 9 at the 16th annual Korbel Dinner. Past winners include Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright.
Recent DU alum Christine Hart began the protest movement with an online petition.
We do not believe that George W. Bush reflects the values, character, and leadership of an appropriate “Improving the Human Condition” awardee. Moreover, we do not feel that he represents the values promoted by the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and the University of Denver or embodied by its students, faculty, and alumni….
Further, as President of the United States, George W. Bush left behind a legacy of human rights abuses, including the torture of detainees in extra-territorial jails, preemptive war, domestic surveillance programs, and other egregious actions that deleteriously impact the human condition.
One university professor, Korbel lecturer Rob Prince, was far less professional with his objection:
I would note, that it is one thing to offer Bush a platform to speak, hard as it is for him to give a talk using complete sentences, and a horse of different color to honor him with a humanitarian award from what is, in this part of the country, a prestigious institution.
DU professor Alan Gilbert hammered similar themes with his public statement, although he left out any childish behavior.
“Bush is an unrepentant war criminal who violated the convention against torture,” says Alan Gilbert, a Korbel professor and John Evans scholar. “This was a terrible mistake but I hope, with many others that the award will be cancelled.”