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University of Denver students to protest event honoring George W. Bush

By   /   September 10, 2013  /   Comments

by Greg Campbell for the DailyCaller News Foundation

Students and faculty at the University of Denver are still outraged that President George W. Bush will be honored with an award Monday night, even though the university changed the name of the award after a similar uproar in July.

Originally, Bush was to be honored for “improving the human condition” by the university’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, which dumbfounded many who blame Bush for the war in Iraq and for torture.

“Former President George W. Bush left behind a legacy of human rights abuses, including the torture of detainees in extraterritorial jails, pre-emptive war, domestic surveillance programs and other egregious actions that deleteriously impact the human condition,” read a petition protesting the honor that was eventually signed by more than 1,600 students, staff, faculty and alumni.

Now, the honor has been rebranded as the “Global Service Award” meant to recognize Bush’s tenure as the country’s 43rd president as well as for his efforts to fight diseases in Africa, including HIV, cervical cancer and malaria.

Critics aren’t mollified and they say that they will protest his appearance at a fundraising dinner. They say the 43rd president doesn’t live up to the school’s namesake, Josef Korbel — former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s father — who was known for his commitment to human rights.

“He’s tarnishing Korbel’s name in an attempt to rebrand Bush as a positive character,” law student Sara Fitouri, who plans to attend the protest, told the Associated Press.

Critics have started a new petition to rescind the award altogether and to involve students and faculty in choosing future recipients.

“Dean [Christopher] Hill’s decision to go forward with honoring Bush is a veritable slap in the faces of many Korbel students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” the petition says. “We believe that merely renaming the award does not suffice. ‘Global Service’ is nearly as appalling and inappropriate as ‘Improving the Human Condition.’ Bush is not deserving of any commendation from the Korbel School.”

Others critics said they aren’t opposed to Bush being invited to speak, just that he’s receiving an award. An alumni of the school suggested to AP that the award be called the “Global Impact Award,” rather than “Global Service.”

Bush will also participate in a public discussion with Hill, the former ambassador to Iraq under President Barack Obama.

Past recipients of awards from the school include UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Secretaries of State Albright and Condoleezza Rice.

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