Who knows why the event was canceled, but it seems at least pretty probable that they were trying to avoid a spectacle of opposition and perhaps hoping that the occupy movements die down as it gets colder and supplies such as generators, tents, and blankets continue to be confiscated by police. As I see it, the University should have taken its chances hosting the event now, while the meager media attention that exists remains focused on the California police who are beating students!
Readers may also be interested in a post by Celeste Langan, linked in the comment section of the Crooked Timber summary of California events. From the post:
As to why I was there: as a tenured professor (and tenure can be defined as a right granted to occupy a position on campus without threat of eviction for expressing dissent) I wanted to express my concern about the double threat posed to the ideal of liberal education by the rising cost of tuition and, more generally, the burden of debt. On the one hand, as many have pointed out, rising costs limit access. On the other hand, the debt students incur as they pursue a liberal arts education also poses a threat to free inquiry, that central value of democratic society. Students are so concerned about their economic futures that they sometimes feel constrained in their choice of courses and majors, too anxious about acquiring the proper credentials for employment to explore areas of intellectual inquiry that might interest them but don't appear to have an instrumental value. When I was teaching Walden last month, I couldn't help but notice how incisively Thoreau diagnoses the effect of "insolvency" on the capacity to think and live freely; the time people spend reading and thinking, he suggests, is increasingly regarded as time "stolen" and "borrowed" from wage-earning.
I note the same narrowly pragmatic thinking in the haste with which the police acted and Chancellor Birgeneau's justification for his decision to authorize the police action: "We simply cannot afford to spend our precious resources and, in particular, student tuition, on costly and avoidable expenses associated with violence or vandalism." No one wishes to "waste" resources in this climate. Yet if one follows this logic one can see the looming threat: lawful assembly, peaceful dissent, and free inquiry—even so-called “breadth requirements”--can all entail some cost. They interfere with “getting and spending.” Dissent, like free inquiry, is sometimes inefficient. Dissent doesn't always have a "deliverable." But it takes time to determine a just answer to “What is to be done?’.