Full-Text Political Transcripts May 8, 2018: President Donald Trump’s speech announcing the US is withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

President Donald Trump announces the US is withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal

Source: WH, 5-8-18

Diplomatic Reception Room

2:13 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: My fellow Americans: Today, I want to update the world on our efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian regime is the leading state sponsor of terror. It exports dangerous missiles, fuels conflicts across the Middle East, and supports terrorist proxies and militias such as Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al Qaeda.

Over the years, Iran and its proxies have bombed American embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American servicemembers, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens. The Iranian regime has funded its long reign of chaos and terror by plundering the wealth of its own people.

No action taken by the regime has been more dangerous than its pursuit of nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them.

In 2015, the previous administration joined with other nations in a deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. This agreement was known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

In theory, the so-called “Iran deal” was supposed to protect the United States and our allies from the lunacy of an Iranian nuclear bomb, a weapon that will only endanger the survival of the Iranian regime. In fact, the deal allowed Iran to continue enriching uranium and, over time, reach the brink of a nuclear breakout.

The deal lifted crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for very weak limits on the regime’s nuclear activity, and no limits at all on its other malign behavior, including its sinister activities in Syria, Yemen, and other places all around the world.

In other words, at the point when the United States had maximum leverage, this disastrous deal gave this regime — and it’s a regime of great terror — many billions of dollars, some of it in actual cash — a great embarrassment to me as a citizen and to all citizens of the United States.

A constructive deal could easily have been struck at the time, but it wasn’t. At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie. Last week, Israel published intelligence documents long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.

The fact is this was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made. It didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.

In the years since the deal was reached, Iran’s military budget has grown by almost 40 percent, while its economy is doing very badly. After the sanctions were lifted, the dictatorship used its new funds to build nuclear-capable missiles, support terrorism, and cause havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond.

The agreement was so poorly negotiated that even if Iran fully complies, the regime can still be on the verge of a nuclear breakout in just a short period of time. The deal’s sunset provisions are totally unacceptable. If I allowed this deal to stand, there would soon be a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Everyone would want their weapons ready by the time Iran had theirs.

Making matters worse, the deal’s inspection provisions lack adequate mechanisms to prevent, detect, and punish cheating, and don’t even have the unqualified right to inspect many important locations, including military facilities.

Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads.

Finally, the deal does nothing to constrain Iran’s destabilizing activities, including its support for terrorism. Since the agreement, Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen.

In light of these glaring flaws, I announced last October that the Iran deal must either be renegotiated or terminated.

Three months later, on January 12th, I repeated these conditions. I made clear that if the deal could not be fixed, the United States would no longer be a party to the agreement.

Over the past few months, we have engaged extensively with our allies and partners around the world, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. We have also consulted with our friends from across the Middle East. We are unified in our understanding of the threat and in our conviction that Iran must never acquire a nuclear weapon.

After these consultations, it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.

The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen. In just a short period of time, the world’s leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world’s most dangerous weapons.

Therefore, I am announcing today that the United States will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

In a few moments, I will sign a presidential memorandum to begin reinstating U.S. nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime. We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.

America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail. We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction. And we will not allow a regime that chants “Death to America” to gain access to the most deadly weapons on Earth.

Today’s action sends a critical message: The United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them. In fact, at this very moment, Secretary Pompeo is on his way to North Korea in preparation for my upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un. Plans are being made. Relationships are building. Hopefully, a deal will happen and, with the help of China, South Korea, and Japan, a future of great prosperity and security can be achieved for everyone.

As we exit the Iran deal, we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive, and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat. This will include efforts to eliminate the threat of Iran’s ballistic missile program; to stop its terrorist activities worldwide; and to block its menacing activity across the Middle East. In the meantime, powerful sanctions will go into full effect. If the regime continues its nuclear aspirations, it will have bigger problems than it has ever had before.

Finally, I want to deliver a message to the long-suffering people of Iran: The people of America stand with you. It has now been almost 40 years since this dictatorship seized power and took a proud nation hostage. Most of Iran’s 80 million citizens have sadly never known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world.

But the future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs to a rich culture and an ancient land. And they deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history, and glory to God.

Iran’s leaders will naturally say that they refuse to negotiate a new deal; they refuse. And that’s fine. I’d probably say the same thing if I was in their position. But the fact is they are going to want to make a new and lasting deal, one that benefits all of Iran and the Iranian people. When they do, I am ready, willing, and able.

Great things can happen for Iran, and great things can happen for the peace and stability that we all want in the Middle East.

There has been enough suffering, death, and destruction. Let it end now.

Thank you. God bless you. Thank you.

(The presidential memorandum is signed.)

Q Mr. President, how does this make America safer? How does this make America safer?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. This will make America much safer. Thank you very much.

Q Is Secretary Pompeo bringing the detainees home?

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Secretary Pompeo is, right now, going to North Korea. He will be there very shortly in a matter of virtual — probably an hour. He’s got meetings set up. We have our meeting scheduled. We have our meeting set. The location is picked — the time and the date. Everything is picked. And we look forward to having a very great success.

We think relationships are building with North Korea. We’ll see how it all works out. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But it can be a great thing for North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the entire world. We hope it all works out.

Thank you very much.

Q Are the Americans being freed?

Q Are the Americans coming home, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: We’ll all soon be finding out. We will soon be finding out. It would be a great thing if they are. We’ll soon be finding out. Thank you very much.

END

2:25 P.M. EDT

Advertisements

Full-Text Political Transcripts May 3, 2018: President Donald Trump’s Speech at the National Day of Prayer

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Source: WH, 5-3-18

Rose Garden

11:38 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. Please. Thank you very much. What a day. What a beautiful day. And our country is doing very well. You’ll see some very good announcements very shortly.

It’s wonderful to be here on this glorious spring morning as we celebrate the National Day of Prayer at the White House in the Rose Garden. (Applause.)

I want to thank Vice President Mike Pence and Karen for joining us. Very special people. Thank you very much. (Applause.) We are truly blessed to have a Vice President and a Second Lady who believe in the power of prayer and the glory of God. And they do believe. I’m with them a lot; they believe. (Applause.) It’s good. Thank you, Mike.

Thanks, also, to the members of the Cabinet who have joined us today, along with so many amazing faith leaders from across the country, including my good friend Paula White, who’s done such an incredible job. Paula. Paula. Stand, Paula. Thank you, Paula. (Applause.) And the President of the National Day of Prayer, Dr. Ronnie Floyd. Thank you. Thank you, Doctor. Thank you. Thanks, Ronnie. (Applause.)

I especially want to recognize Cissie Graham. And I will now add that word “Lynch” because I always call her Cissie Graham, but it’s really Cissie Graham Lynch. You like it that way better, right? Don’t you think we — I like it that way, too. I like it that way because you’re married to a great gentleman. A fantastic man. So, Cissie, thank you very much for being here. We appreciate it very much. (Applause.)

Priest Narayanachar, Sister Bingham, Chaplain Agbere, Rabbi Shemtov, Cardinal Wuerl, and the Hope Christian Church Choir. I heard you, by the way, right inside the Oval Office. That was beautiful. That was great music. Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

As we gather this morning, our thoughts also turn to the memory of a man who awakened the light of God in the hearts of millions of America’s pastors. And that’s the great, legendary, wonderful Billy Graham. Great, great man. Great. (Applause.) So, Cissie, I want to thank you for carrying on your grandfather’s incredible, towering legacy.

Today, we remember the words of Reverend Graham, “Prayer is the key that opens [to] us the treasures of God’s mercies and blessings.” Always beautiful. And when he said it, it meant so much. When I say it, it means something. But I liked when he said it better. (Laughter.) Right? I think he did that a little better than I do.

Reverend Graham’s words remind us that prayer has always been at the center of American life, because America is a nation of believers. Right? That’s very true. (Applause.)

The prayers of religious believers helped gain our independence, and the prayers of religious leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King — great man — helped win the long struggle for civil rights. Faith has shaped our families, and it’s shaped our communities. It’s inspired our commitment to charity and our defense of liberty. And faith has forged the identity and the destiny of this great nation that we all love. (Applause.)

Americans of faith have built the hospitals that care for our sick, the homes that tend to our elderly, and the charities that house the orphaned, and they minister — and they really do, they minister to the poor, and so beautifully and with such love.

We are proud of our religious heritage. And as President, I will always protect religious liberty. We’ve been doing it. We’ve been doing it. (Applause.) Last year on this day, I took executive action to prevent the Johnson Amendment — a disaster — from interfering with our First Amendment rights. I was so proud of that. I’ve been saying from the beginning. You know that. (Applause.) I was saying for a long time we’re going to do that.

Across the government, we have taken action to defend the religious conscience of doctors, nurses, teachers, students, and groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor. (Applause.)

In January of this year, I was proud to be the first President to stand here in the Rose Garden to address the March for Life. A very special day. (Applause.)

And my administration has spoken out against religious persecution around the world, including the persecution of many, many Christians. What’s going on is horrible. And we’re taking action. We are taking action. (Applause.)

We condemn all crimes against people of faith, and today we are launching another historic action to promote religious freedom. I will soon be signing an executive order to create a faith initiative at the White House. (Applause.) Thank you very much.

The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country. This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.

We take this step because we know that, in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God. (Applause.)

With us today is a living reminder of this truth. His name is Jon Ponder, from Las Vegas, Nevada. Where’s Jon? Come on up here, Jon. Get up here, Jon. (Applause.)

Jon grew up without his father. As he tells it, “My mother was strong, but she wasn’t able to keep us out of the gangs and off the streets.” Right? Jon was in and out of jail for years until, at age 38, he was arrested for bank robbery. You don’t look like a bank robber, Jon. (Laughter.) He’s come a long way.

Jon soon ended up in federal prison, relegated to solitary confinement. That’s where God found him. Jon began to read the Bible and listen to Christian radio. Right? (Applause.) Incredible.

One morning, at 2 a.m., he woke up to the voice of the great Billy Graham. Reverend Graham’s words came through the airwaves, “Jesus wants to be Lord of your life.” That night, Jon dedicated his life to Christ. (Applause.)

He spent the rest of his time in prison praying, studying the Bible, and bringing the Lord to his fellow inmates. The day after Jon’s release, a visitor knocked on his door. It was the man who put him in jail, FBI Special Agent Richard Beasley — who is here. Richard. Come on up, Richard. (Applause.)

“I want you to know that I’ve been praying for you very strongly,” he said, that, “God called me to the FBI in part because of you, Jon.” The two are now lifelong friends.

Jon, do you like him?

PONDER: I love him.

THE PRESIDENT: You love him? That’s nice. (Applause.) That’s beautiful.

Jon runs a ministry that has helped more than 2,000 former inmates rejoin society, and he’s the talk of the country. The job Jon does is incredible.

Jon and Richard, you are a living testament to the power of prayer. (Applause.) Your story reminds us that prayer changes hearts and transforms lives. It uplifts the soul, inspires action, and unites us all as one nation, under God. So important.

And we say it here. You know, a lot of people — (applause) — they don’t say it. But you know what? They’re starting to say it more. Just like we’re starting to say, “Merry Christmas” when that day comes around. (Applause.) You notice the big difference between now and two or three years ago? It was — Paula, it was going in the other direction rapidly. Right? Now it’s straight up.

Our country was founded on prayer. Our communities are sustained by prayer. And our nation will be renewed by hard work, a lot of intelligence, and prayer. (Applause.)

Today we gather to remember this truth: We thank God for the faith of our people. We praise God for the blessings of freedom. And we ask God to forever bless this magnificent land that we all love so much.

America, thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States. Thank you, everybody. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you, Jon.

(The executive order is signed.) (Applause.)

Thank you very much, everybody. It’s a great day. Thank you.

END

11:52 A.M. EDT

Full-Text Political Transcripts May 2, 2018: Remarks by President Donald Trump at the National Teacher of the Year Reception

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by President Trump at the National Teacher of the Year Reception

Source: WH, 5-2-18

East Room

4:38 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  What beautiful singing I just heard from the glee club.  Thank you very much.  That was so beautiful.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Good afternoon.  I’m thrilled to be here with so many friends and colleagues and distinguished educators for our annual National Teacher of the Year celebration.

I’d like to thank Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos for joining us, along with Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta.  Thank you very much, Betsy and Alex.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

And a very special thanks, again, to the Glee Club of the Walter B. Patterson Elementary School.  Brilliant talent, and great voices.  Big future.  Big future.  (Applause.)

Finally, congratulations to all of the Teachers of the Year representing their respective states, territories, and the District of Columbia.  Very, very special people.  Very important.

We’re joined by three amazing finalists for National Teacher of the Year: Amy Anderson, Jonathan Juravich, and Kara Ball.  Where’s Kara Ball?  Where is Kara?  Please stand up.  Jonathan, stand up.  All three, please stand up.  (Applause.)  That’s a great job.  Thank you, Kara.  Thank you.  Thank you, Jonathan.  Beautiful.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  I just met — we took pictures backstage, and it was my great honor.  It’s a tremendous achievement.

And it’s also my honor to host all of you — your families, your amazing friends — all right here at the White House.  A very, very special place.  We all agree.  You were saying before just how special it was, and it’s special.  Every time I walk into it or go to sleep upstairs — (laughter) — I say, “This is a very, very great place.”

Each of you has dedicated your lives to our nation’s single most important resource: our children.  Every President since Harry Truman has honored the National Teacher of the Year, and I’m proud to continue this tradition with this year’s recipient: Mandy Manning, of the state of Washington.  Great state.  Thank you.  Fantastic, Mandy.  (Applause.)  Outstanding job by Mandy — by everybody.  But outstanding job by Mandy.  Thank you.

Having begun her teaching career in the Peace Corps almost two decades ago, I know that Mandy will be pleased to see Dr. Jody Olsen, Director of the Peace Corps, joining us in her honor.  Thank you very much, Doctor.  Appreciate it.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

Mandy took her passion for education from the Peace Corps to Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington, where she has been teaching English and math for the past six years.

Her incredible devotion has earned her the adoration — total adoration, actually — and respect of students and colleagues throughout her school district, community, and the entire state.

Teachers like Mandy play a vital role in the well-being of our children, the strength of our communities, and the success of our nation.

The job of a teacher is not only to instruct the next generation of workers, but the next generation of citizens to teach our children to care for others, to think for themselves, to love their country, to be proud of our history, and to be true pillars of their families and their communities.  Such an important job.  There is no more important job.

We have teachers to thank for identifying and nurturing the boundless potential of America’s youth.  Sometimes, all it takes to begin the next great American success story is a teacher who really, really cares.

The legacy of a good teacher extends through many lifetimes.  As the great author Henry Adams once said, “A teacher affects eternity.”  So true.

To Mandy and all of the amazing educators here today: Your tireless dedication doesn’t just inspire your students, it inspires all of us.  And I can tell you, it very much inspires me.  We honor you and every citizen called to the noble vocation of teaching.

Now, it is my privilege to present Mandy with the National Teacher of the Year Award.  This is a truly special award.  And, Mandy, congratulations.  (Applause.)

(The award is presented.)  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I just want to thank everybody again for being here.  I want to really wish you the best, for Mandy and for all of this incredible talent.  And that’s what it is.  This is talent.

I just want to say God bless you.  And God bless America.  Congratulations.  Thank you all very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.  (Applause.)

END

4:44 P.M. EDT

Full-Text Political Transcripts April 28, 2018: Michelle Wolf’s remarks comedy set speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

TRUMP PRESIDENCY & 115TH CONGRESS:

Michelle Wolf’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Watch full remarks on C-SPAN

Source: WaPo, 4-28-18

Good evening. Good evening. Here we are, the White House correspondents’ dinner: Like a porn star says when she’s about to have sex with a Trump, let’s get this over with.

Yup, kiddos, this is who you’re getting tonight. I’m going to skip a lot of the normal pleasantries. We’re at a Hilton; it’s not nice. This is on C-SPAN; no one watches that. Trump is president; it’s not ideal.

The White House Correspondents’ Association, thank you for having me. The monkfish was fine.

And just a reminder to everyone, I’m here to make jokes. I have no agenda. I’m not trying to get anything accomplished. So everyone that’s here from Congress, you should feel right at home.

Yeah, before we get too far, a little bit about me. A lot of you might not know who I am. I’m 32 years old, which is an odd age: 10 years too young to host this event and 20 years too old for Roy Moore.

I know, he almost got elected, yeah. It was fun. It was fun.

Honestly, I never really thought I’d be a comedian. But I did take an aptitude test in seventh grade — and this is 100 percent true — I took an aptitude test in seventh grade, and it said in my best profession was a clown or a mime.

Well, at first it said clown, and then it heard my voice and then was like, “Or maybe mime. Think about mime.”

And I know as much as some of you might want me to, it’s 2018 and I am a woman, so you cannot shut me up — unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000. Michael, you can find me on Venmo under my porn star name, Reince Priebus.

Reince just gave a thumbs up. Okay.

Now, people are saying America is more divided than ever, but I think no matter what you support politically, we can all agree that this is a great time for craft stores. Because of all the protests, poster board has been flying off the shelves faster than Robert Mueller can say, “You’ve been subpoenaed.”

Thanks to Trump, pink yarn sales are through the roof. After Trump got elected, women started knitting those p—y hats. When I first saw them, I was like, “That’s a p—y?” I guess mine just has a lot more yarn on it.

Yeah, shoulda done more research before you got me to do this.

Now, there is a lot to cover tonight. There’s a lot to go over. I can’t get to everything. I know there’s a lot of people that want me to talk about Russia and Putin and collusion, but I’m not going to do that because there’s also a lot of liberal media here. And I’ve never really wanted to know what any of you look like when you orgasm.

Except for maybe you, Jake Tapper. I bet it’s something like this: “Okay, that’s all the time we have.”

It is kind of crazy that the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn’t even in contact with Michigan. It’s a direct flight; it’s so close.

Of course, Trump isn’t here, if you haven’t noticed. He’s not here. And I know, I know, I would drag him here myself. But it turns out the president of the United States is the one p—y you’re not allowed to grab.

He said it first. Yeah, he did. Do you remember? Good.

Now, I know people really want me to go after Trump tonight, but I think we should give the president credit when he deserves it. Like, he pulled out the Paris agreement, and I think he should get credit for that because he said he was going to pull out and then he did. And that’s a refreshing quality in a man. Most men are like, “I forgot. I’ll get you next time.” Oh, there’s going to be a next time? People say romance is dead.

People call Trump names all the time. And, look, I could call Trump a racist, a misogynist or xenophobic or unstable or incompetent or impotent. But he’s heard all of those, and he doesn’t care. So, tonight, I’m going to try to make fun of the president in a new way — in a way that I think will really get him. Mr. President, I don’t think you’re very rich.

Like, I think you might be rich in Idaho, but in New York, you’re doing fine. Trump is the only person that still watches “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” and thinks, “Me.”

Although, I’m not sure you’d get very far. He’d get to, like, the third question and be, like, “I have to phone a ‘Fox & Friend.’”

We’re going to try a fun new thing, okay? I’m going to say, “Trump is so broke,” and you guys go, “How broke is he?” All right?

Trump is so broke.

[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]

He has to fly failed business class.

Trump is so broke.

[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]

He looked for foreign oil in Don Jr.’s hair.

Trump is so broke.

[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]

He — Southwest used him as one of their engines.

I know, it’s so soon. It’s so soon for that joke. Why did she tell it? It’s so soon.

Trump is so broke.

[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]

He had to borrow money from the Russians, and now he’s compromised and not susceptible to blackmail and possibly responsible for the collapse of the republic.

Yay. It’s a fun game.

Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a white nationalist is like calling a pedophile a kid friend or Harvey Weinstein a ladies’ man — which isn’t really fair; he also likes plants.Trump’s also an idea guy. He’s got loads of ideas. You gotta love him for that. He wants to give teachers guns, and I support that, ’cause then they can sell them for things they need, like supplies. A lot of protractors.

A lot of people want Trump to be impeached. I do not. Because just when you think Trump is awful, you remember Mike Pence. Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay.

Mike Pence is the kind of guy that brushes his teeth and then drinks orange juice and thinks, “Mmm.” Mike Pence is also very anti-choice. He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you got to get that baby out of there.

And, yes, sure, you can groan all you want. I know a lot of you are very antiabortion. You know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress. It’s fun how values can waver. But good for you.

Mike Pence is a weirdo, though. He’s a weird little guy. He won’t meet with other women without his wife present. When people first heard this, they were like, “That’s crazy.” But now, in this current climate, they’re like, “That’s a good witness.”

Which, of course, brings me to the Me Too movement; it’s probably the reason I’m here. They were like, “A woman’s probably not going to jerk off in front of anyone, right?” And to that, I say, “Don’t count your chickens.” There’s a lot of party.

Now, I’ve worked in a lot of male-dominated fields. Before comedy, I worked at a tech company and, before that, I worked on Wall Street. And, honestly, I’ve never really been sexually harassed. That being said, I did work at Bear Stearns in 2008. So, although I haven’t been sexually harassed, I’ve definitely been f—ed. Yeah, that whole company went down on me without my consent. And no men got in trouble for that one either.

No, things are changing. Men are being held accountable. You know, Al Franken was ousted. That one really hurt liberals. But I believe it was the great Ted Kennedy who said, “Wow, that’s crazy; I murdered a woman.”

“Chappaquiddick” in theaters now.

I did have a lot of jokes — I had a lot of jokes about Cabinet members, but I had to scrap all of those because everyone has been fired. You guys are going through Cabinet members quicker than Starbucks throws out black people.

No, don’t worry, they’re having an afternoon. That’ll solve it. We just needed an afternoon.

Mitch McConnell isn’t here. He had a prior engagement. He’s finally getting his neck circumcised. Mazel.

Paul Ryan couldn’t make it. Of course, he’s already been circumcised. Unfortunately, while they were down there, they also took his b—s.

Yeah, bye, Paul. Great acting, though, in that video.

Republicans are easy to make fun of. It’s like shooting fish in a Chris Christie. But I also want to make fun of Democrats. Democrats are harder to make fun of because you guys don’t do anything.

People think you might flip the House and Senate this November, but you guys always find a way to mess it up. You’re somehow going to lose by 12 points to a guy named Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor. Oh, he’s a doctor?

We should definitely talk about the women in the Trump administration. There’s Kellyanne Conway. Man, she has the perfect last name for what she does: Conway. It’s like if my name was Michelle Jokes Frizzy Hair Small T–s.

You guys gotta stop putting Kellyanne on your shows. All she does is lie. If you don’t give her a platform, she has nowhere to lie. It’s like that old saying: If a tree falls in the woods, how do we get Kellyanne under that tree?

I’m not suggesting she gets hurt; just stuck. Stuck under a tree.

Incidentally, a tree falls in the woods is Scott Pruitt’s definition of porn. Yeah, we all have our kinks.

There’s also, of course, Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons. She’s done nothing to satisfy women. So, I guess, like father, like daughter.

Oh, you don’t think he’s good in bed. Come on.

She does clean up nice, though. Ivanka cleans up nice. She’s the Diaper Genie of the administration. On the outside, she looks sleek but the inside — it’s still full of s—.

And, of course, we have Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We’re graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.

Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited because I’m not really sure what we’re going to get: you know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams. “It’s shirts and skins, and this time, don’t be such a little b—-, Jim Acosta.”

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. Like, she burns facts, and then she uses the ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it; maybe it’s lies.

It’s probably lies.

And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. You know, is it Sarah Sanders? Is Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know: Aunt Coulter.

We’ve got our friends at CNN here. Welcome, guys, it’s great to have you. You guys love breaking news, and you did it. You broke it. Good work.

The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles.

Fox News is here. So, you know what that means, ladies: Cover your drinks. Seriously.

People want me to make fun of Sean Hannity tonight, but I cannot do that; this dinner is for journalists.

We’ve got MSNBC here. MSNBC’s news slogan is, “This is who we are.” Guys, it’s not a good slogan. “This is who we are” is what your mom thinks the sad show on NBC is called. “Did you watch ‘This Is Who We Are’ this week? Someone left on a Crockpot, and everyone died.”

I watch “Morning Joe” every morning. We now know that Mika and Joe are engaged. Congratulations, you guys. It’s like when a Me Too works out.

We also have Rachel Maddow. We cannot forget about Rachel Maddow. She is the Peter Pan of MSNBC. But instead of never growing up, she never gets to the point. Watching Rachel Maddow is like going to Target. You went in for milk, but you left with shampoo, candles and the entire history of the Byzantine Empire. “I didn’t need this.”

And, of course, Megyn Kelly. What would I do without Megyn Kelly? You know, probably be more proud of women.

Megyn Kelly got paid $23 million by NBC, then NBC didn’t let Megyn go to the Winter Olympics. Why not? She’s so white, cold and expensive, she might as well be the Winter Olympics.

And, by the way, Megyn, Santa’s black. The weird old guy going through your chimney was Bill O’Reilly. You might want to put a flue on it or something.

There’s a lot of print media here. There’s a ton of you guys, but I’m not going to go after print media tonight because it’s illegal to attack an endangered species.

Buy newspapers.

There’s a ton of news right now; a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. But, instead, we’re covering like three topics. Every hour, it’s Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people who remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving.

“Milk comes from nuts now, all ’cause of the gays.”

You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you used to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him, but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks or vodka or water or college or ties or Eric, but he has helped you.

He’s helped you sell your papers and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster, and now you’re profiting off of him. And if you’re gonna profit off of Trump, you should at least give him some money because he doesn’t have any.

Trump is so broke.

[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]

He grabs p—ies ’cause he thinks there might be loose change in them. All right, like an immigrant who was brought here by his parents and didn’t do anything wrong, I gotta get the f— out of here. Good night.

Flint still doesn’t have clean water.

Education April 17, 2018: McGill professors sign an open letter supporting students over complaints of sexual misconduct

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

EDUCATION

McGill professors sign an open letter supporting students over complaints of sexual misconduct

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

McGill University students are getting some support from their professors in their fight with the administration over sexual misconduct by professors in the Faculty of Arts. About 150 professors signed an open letter and sent it to administration officials on Monday, April 16, 2018, supporting the students’ grievances against the administration. The letter comes after the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) published an open letter demanding an external investigation, and staged a walkout protesting the administrations’ inaction over the misconduct of five professors in the Faculty of Arts. Tomorrow, Tuesday April 17, McGill students will be hosting a town hall meeting to discuss the issue.

The 148 professors made it clear that they support the SSMU’s call for an external investigation, their timeline to have it completed by June and the establishment of a single sexual violence policy covering both misconducts by students and faculty. The professors, who signed came from all the university’s faculties, not just Arts. They declared, “We stand in support of the students who have come forward with their experiences and with the student representatives and advocates who have supported these students.”

The professors wrote in the letter, “As teachers, we have a commitment to upholding a learning environment where students feel safe, supported and able to challenge themselves. It would be in violation of this duty for us not to add our voices to those of the students.” The professors also acknowledged that professor-student relationships should be prohibited. They wrote, “We believe that sexual relationships between students and faculty who are in a position to influence their academic and professional progress should be banned.”

The professors also reminded the administration that the issue affects the entire McGill community and the universities reputation. The professors pointed out to the administration, they have to “publicly acknowledge the fact that this issue affects the entire McGill community and the university’s reputation.”

The professors claim that the university has to keep in check professors that abuse their power because it also affects other faculty members. They indicated, “The lack of transparency concerning how complaints are handled against faculty members, who abuse their positions of power in this way, creates a toxic work and learning environment, and often places an invisible burden on other faculty members.”

History professor Shannon Fitzpatrick spoke to CBC News about the faculty’s open letter. Fitzpatrick finds it troubling that the administration is ignoring students complaints. Fitzpatrick told CBC, the administration is “actively shutting down a line of communication. That to me goes against the university’s mission of critical inquiry into social problems.”

Last Wednesday, April 11, 2018, a week after publishing an open letter to the university administration, students staged a walkout over the administration ignoring repeated calls over professors’ inappropriate and sexually violating behavior in the Faculty of Arts. McGill students were joined by neighboring Concordia University students, who have been dealing with complaints against professors in their Creating Writing program, which go back nearly 20 years. Around 1,000 students walked out of their classes at 2 p.m. and protested in front of the James Administration Building at McGill’s downtown campus in community square. The joint protest was organized by both schools students societies; Concordia Student Union and Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU).

Two weeks ago, on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, the SSMU published an open letter addressed to the administration calling for an investigation into the way the university and Faculty of Arts have been dealing sexual violence and harassment complaints against professors. The letter has been signed by over 2000 students and over 85 clubs and other student societies. The letter accuses administration officials of ignoring complaints against professors in the Faculty of Arts.

McGill students want an investigation conducted by a third-party investigation into the method McGill deals with complaints. They want the third-party to review and interview students who made informal and formal complaints to the Dean of Arts against professors for the last five years and review if tenure committees are aware of any complaints. The SSMU wants the findings by this June. They are also demanding McGill to have an inclusive sexual violence policy that addresses professor-student relationships and misconduct complaints against professors. Now the SSMU has added a threat to motivate the administration; they act by Monday, April 23, or the SSMU will file a complaint at the Quebec Ministry of Education that McGill is in violation of Bill 151, the law requiring a single sexual assault policy for Quebec universities.

For the past few years, there have been rumblings about five professors that have misused their positions among both the students and faculty. The professors are in five different departments in the Faculty of Arts; history, philosophy, political science, psychology and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Among the offenses are “holding office hours in bars with underage students, to routinely sleeping with students who are in their classes, to being in abusive relationships with students they’re supervising.” Additionally, the professors would “make sexually suggestive comments in person and in e-mails.”

Apparently, the situation with these professors is an “open secret” everyone knows what is happening, but nothing is being done to stop these professors from running amok. The McGill Daily in their article, “We have always known about McGill’s predatory professors” wrote that the survey they conducted confirmed decades of sexual misconduct and that students have used a word-of-mouth system. The Daily sent out this survey April 9, receiving “dozens” of testimonies from the word-of-mouth system going back to 2008 according to the article. Unfortunately, professors have been blurring the lines for many years before at McGill, and there have been more than the five at the heart of students’ protests now.

Students have been writing anonymous accounts of the misconduct for years in the Daily. This past year, however, the protests are louder because one of the accused professors are up for tenure, which led to student letters to his department and a grassroots protest movement this past fall semester.

Despite the knowledge of the misconduct, students, however, are and have been discouraged from filing complaints by the Faculty of Arts. The complaints process at McGill has not and still does not deal with complaints against professors, especially those who engage in relationships with students, despite a revised sexual violence policy passed in 2016.

McGill students have been looking to Concordia for inspiration and to show McGill, an investigation is needed and a policy enforced to address professor-student relationships. Seeing the quick action at Concordia, made McGill’s students take an active and official stand against the administration’s lax treatment of professors who abuse their power.

Tomorrow students are going to continue their protest with a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. The meeting will allow students “to share stories, concerns, thoughts and questions” and to discuss what else the SSMU can do to convince the administration to act. The event is closed to the public and the media, and can only be attended by current McGill undergraduate and graduate students.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education April 8, 2018: McGill University now has their #MeToo movement moment as students protest lothario professors 

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

EDUCATION

McGill University now has their #MeToo movement moment as students protest lothario professors

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Montreal universities are now being drawn into the #MeToo movement forced to confront years of sexual harassment and assault that was pushed under the table. First, it was Concordia University, now McGill University is getting barraged for their handling of complaints. On Thursday, April 4, 2018, the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) published an open letter calling for an investigation into the way the university and Faculty of Arts have dealing sexual violence complaints against professors. The letter has been signed by nearly 1,500 students and over 50 clubs and other student societies. The letter accuses administration officials of ignoring complaints against professors in the Faculty of Arts and they are demanding a third-party investigation. The letter and calls are a long time in the making as students and professors have been writing and commenting about the actions of these professors in the Faculty of Arts, who engaged in so called consensual and unwanted inappropriate behavior against students for years.

The president of SSMU and its societies and five vice presidents addressed the letter to Principal Suzanne Fortier, Provost Christopher Manfredi, and Dean of Students Chris Buddle. The letter recounted the situation at the university, but did not name any professors, although students have been naming the professors in unofficial capacities for years. Neither does the letter describe the professors’ actions, although the chatter is quite loud on online forums, personal blogs and the student press, everyone on campus knows who these offenders are.

The letter claims, “These professors continue to teach and to supervise, in some cases teaching mandatory first year courses, leaving vulnerable the students who have not yet been warned about the predatory behaviours of certain professors. It has also been the case that student representatives over this past year have brought up these concerns multiple times to many different members of administration. It was clear that the majority of the administration who were met with knew which professors students are concerned about. And despite our expressing anxiety over the safety and well being of a particular student in one case – no action was taken.”

Connor Spencer, vice-president of external affairs for the Students’ Society of McGill University had a press conference on Thursday, April 5, clarifying the allegations. According to Spencer there are five professors that have misused their positions. The professors are in five different departments in the Faculty of Arts; history, philosophy, political science, psychology and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Among the offenses are “holding office hours in bars with underage students, to routinely sleeping with students who are in their classes, to being in abusive relationships with students they’re supervising.” Additionally, the professors would “make sexually suggestive comments in person and in e-mails.”

Apparently, the situation with these professors is an “open secret” everyone knows what is happening, but nothing is being done to stop these professors from running amok, while students are being discouraged from filing complaints. Spencer told CBC News, “Everyone’s aware of where the problems are, and no one’s doing anything to address it, year after year.” Spencer explained to the Globe and Mail, “Everyone knows the names of the professors and it’s shared among students.” The problem has been happening for at least five years with these specific professors. Spencer recounted that female students have been warning incoming students with a list of professors “whose classes I was not to take.” Female students were warned to never be alone with these professors. Spencer told the Globe and Mail, “If she did take their courses, she was told never to go to their offices ‘if I wanted to keep myself safe.’”

Despite everyone in the university, from the students to the administration know about the problems, the administration refuses to take any actions, because of the lack of formal complaints. Spencer recounted to the Globe and Mail, “We’ve spoken about specific cases with administrators in meetings and still nothing has been done, even though they know that these are reoccurring issues.” Spencer told the Montreal Gazette the SSMU wants the university to take the problem seriously, “We are hoping with this open letter to change the culture of understanding and show (the administration) they need to investigate when there are serious problems that compromise the safety and well being of students … whether or not there are official complaints.”

The SSMU’s letter is a means to force the administration to launch an investigation. The SSMU letter also asked for a remedy to the ongoing problem, their solution a third-party investigation into the method McGill deals with complaints. They want the third-party to review and interview students who made informal and formal complaints to the Dean of Arts against professors for the last five years and review if tenure committees are aware of any complaints. The SSMU wants the findings by this June.

The SSMU made the request in their letter, “We understand that the Faculty of Arts is not the only faculty that has a problem with professors who abuse their power, and we hope that an external investigation into Arts will set a precedent so that in the future McGill will act when they become aware of departmental issues and that above all they will begin to prioritize the safety of their students before the legal liability or reputation of the institution.”

When asked to respond by the press Vice-Principal Louis Arseneault (Communications and External Relations) declined to comment. Arseneault only gave a generic politically correct response in a statement, saying, “McGill University has put in place staff, resources, policies and opportunities for individuals and groups to come forward with their concerns and complaints. These are matters we take very seriously. Every report or complaint of sexual misconduct, abuse of authority through sexual misconduct or ‘predatory behaviour’ that contains sufficiently detailed facts is investigated. If there are findings of sexual misconduct of any kind, appropriate measures are taken, following due process.” Arseneault cited privacy laws in the investigation, stating, “Because of Quebec law concerning privacy, the University cannot disclose when it is conducting investigations, nor reveal any results. Thus, the fact that results are not disclosed is not evidence that investigations did not occur or that they were faulty.”

Provost and Vice-Principal Manfredi also sent a personal responseto Spencer, insisting, “Every report and complaint of misconduct that contains sufficient details is investigated.” Manfredi told Spencer, “As you know from your own work on the Sexual Violence Policy Implementation Committee and from McGill administrators’ ongoing, direct engagement with SSMU executives – yourself included – McGill has in place extensive resources, skilled staff, and robust policies to address matters of sexual violence and to support survivors.”

Despite the university being on defensive as to investigating sexual misconduct complaints, the process deters students from filing a complaint or if they start they usually stop. As Spencer pointed out, “it’s so labour-intensive and retraumatizing.” As with women who file complaints against men in positions of power many are worried they would not be believed. The university has also in past situations attempted to discredit claims that are filed as a deterrent for students filing complaints. The complaints process is also steeped in confidentiality, it is meant to help the students, but does more to protect a an accused faculty member.

Student Geneviève Mercier-Dalphond writing in a March 2016, McGill Daily article entitled, “The vicious circle of professor-student relationships A follow-up investigation of McGill’s policies on sexual harassment” discussed the problems confidentiality in the process causes. Mercier-Dalphond explained, “On a broader level, it sends a message that normalizes student-professor relations, and sets an example for other professors that they can get away with this kind of inappropriate behaviour.”

In December 2016, McGill revised their sexual violence policy, Policy against Sexual Violence, to comply with Quebec’s new Bill 151, requiring schools to have a consolidated sexual violence policy (SVP) including addressing professor-student relationships by 2019. The new SVP deals with violence by the whole McGill community, especially students and operates under the Student Code of Conduct. The policy can “reprimand, expel or suspend a student.” The new policy was three years in the making, and was supposed to have a “survivor-centred approach.” Additionally, the policy “establishes measures that McGill will adopt with respect to prevention, education, support, and response to sexual violence.” The university also created a new sexual assault centre, “dedicated to sexual violence education and response.”

At the time the new policy was passed by the university senate; the students still had misgivings about how complaints would be handled under the new rules. Erin Sobat, the vice-president of university affairs for the SSMU during the 2016-17 academic year commented at the time to CBC News, “What it doesn’t do is address the disciplinary process past the process of filing a report.” Labour laws in Quebec, prohibit the publication of the procedures. The only way to file a complaint against a professor is by filing a complaint for” harassment, violence of coercion.”

The new policy also failed to address professor-student relationships, and complaints against professors; a central problem at the heart of the complaints against one of the professors the open letter is directed. The new SVP says very little about these relationships, writing, “an abuse of a relationship of trust, power or authority, such as the relationship between a professor and their student,” and agreeing they cannot be consensual. The only way to file a complaint against a professor is by filing a complaint for” harassment, violence of coercion.” The complaints are then processed through the Regulations Relating to Employment of Tenure Track and Tenured Academic Staff. Labour laws in Quebec, prohibit the publication of the procedures. The process is so complicated that it dissuades students from filing. Connor explained to the Montreal Gazette, “You have to consult at least six documents full of policy jargon after you’ve just experienced a trauma, and you are not really sure about wanting to do this, anyway. That would discourage anyone from coming forward.”

In December 2017, the McGill Tribune editorial board wrote an opinion piece opposing the lack of policy for such complaints entitled, “McGill’s sexual violence policy lacking on professor-student relationships.” They emphasized what an important gap this is in policy since these relationships cannot be consensual. The board pointed to the conflict of interest with such relationships, and indicated why. The board expressed, “Of more dire ethical concern is the question of consent in these relationships. The power differential between students and professors is enormous—whether acting as an intro-course lecturer or a master’s research supervisor, a professor has substantial control over their students’ success at McGill, and, by extension, their career prospects upon graduation. Given this compromised capacity to object to unwanted sexual advances, it is unethical for a professor to initiate any relationship with a student directly beneath them.”

The #MeToo movement is altering the definition of consent, especially there is a difference power between the two parties in evolved, such as professors getting involved in relationships, and sexually with their students. Students who believe they are getting involved consensually with professors seem to forget, with such a power difference, these relationships can never truly be consensual, because there is no equality. Mercier-Dolphand in the McGill Daily explained, “The student’s power in this dynamic is not comparable, and talking of equality between consenting adults in this case ignores the power differential on which the relationship is built.”

Recently, even former White House intern Monica Lewinsky in a March 2018, Vanity Fair article entitled, “Emerging from the ‘House of Gaslight’ in the age of #metoo” re-examined her relationship with former President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky persistently claimed it was consensual and she was not a victim, but she is currently reconsidering it in light of the #MeToo movement. Lewinsky expressed, “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)”

A former Associate Dean of Arts at York University, Shirley Katz wrote a policy paper on the very issue published in University Affairs in 2000, entitled “Sexual Relations Between Students and Faculty.” To Katz there cannot be consent because of professors’ “power over students” as the nature of role. Katz concludes the power difference is always there making consent in the traditional way impossible for students. Katz wrote, “because the professor’s powers affect the student’s life in a significant way, […] the student cannot say no to the relationship, so her consent is actually coerced compliance.”

Jason M. Opal, associate professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill commented in the 2015 McGill Daily article, “Let’s talk about teacher,” a student’s anonymous recount of her sexual relationship with one of the professors accused of inappropriate behavior. Opal concurred, the power dynamic affects consent. Opal wrote there are “profound inadequacies of ‘consent’ as a moral and social category.” Continuing, he said, “consent is better than coercion: that is the best thing we can say about it. Opal concluded that the professor student relationship is “inherently problematic, usually exploitative, and often predatory.” The unequal predatory nature is the reason professors involved have to face sanctions and punishments from the university, because they have an obligation to protect their students.

Some of the accounts coming from McGill describe sexual relationships, but they are not the only inappropriate ones. Others blur the line, friendships and emotional relationships that can tether on sexual harassment or impropriety, but avoid the messy sexual dynamic that is easier to prove crossed a line. Even if broken boundaries are easily proved, the university has not been kind to students filing complaints against professors after such relationships. They are not given the same weight as unwanted and forced sexual harassment and assault committed by other students. Universities have been enacting policies that prohibit any personal relationships between students and professors, especially if they are in as position to grade them for some timer already. McGill has yet to address the issue even after revising their sexual assault policy..

Students had a right to be concerned about the revised SVP seeing what is transpiring with the five Arts professors and the way complaints have been brushed aside. The SSMU has been working on an additional policycovering misconduct from students in McGill’s clubs and societies. Closing the “loophole” would make students more comfortable making complaints against fellow students. It would allow the SSMU clubs and societies to remove or sanction someone that has a complaint filed against them, even banning them from the SSMU building. Additionally, it would provide mandatory training in defining and preventing sexual assault for all SSMU associated university clubs and societies.

For over two years there has been rumblings of complaints of transgressions by professors in the Faculty of Arts, particularly, the Department of Political Science, incidentally Provost Manfredi’s old department and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Apparently, there are claims that there is a serial sexual harasser in the department of political science and a serial lothario in the Institute of Islamic Studies. This professor in the Islamic Studies is a central reason for the students and SSMU’s uproar over the university’s mishandlings of professors’ inappropriate behavior.

Former McGill political science professor Stephen Saideman, who taught at the department from 2002 to 2012 wrote about the actions of a professor in his department. Saideman repeatedly wrote about this particular professor in a number of blog posts. In his blog post entitled, “McGill’s Shame Continues” from March 2016, he specifically revealed that this professor was teaching Middle East and peace building studies in the department. Saideman explained in his post why he did not expose the name of the professor. The former McGill professor commented, “I have repeatedly referred to a particular serial sexual harasser […] but obliquely so. Why obliquely so? Because I am not sure what the consequences are for me of violating the confidentiality agreements of a place I used to work and because I didn’t want people to speculate about who received this guy’s unwanted attention.”

A student did successfully file a complaint this particular professor; however, the so-called punishment was hardly enough to deter him from continuing harassing students. Saideman recounted, “[the University] did find in favour of the student, and the provost found that something inappropriate happened at the time, but that it did not fit the definition at the time of sexual harassment. I do believe this is a failure on the part of that provost.” All the university did was change the professor’s office to one where he can be monitored and prevented him from taking on graduate students. In barely no time, the department lapsed, he was back in his old office, and supervising graduate students, even female ones.

In 2016, Saidemen claimed the major problem with the complaints process was confidentiality and the university refusing to name guilty professors. During his time at McGill Saideman used to discourage students from studying that area, as the only means of deterrence he could do. Saideman told the McGill Daily, “The core problem is how McGill has handled it. It was all treated confidentially, which has the effect of protecting the perpetrator…. the job of the University is to protect students.” Saideman was surprised that he was still teaching, saying, “I simply don’t understand why McGill has not fired him yet.”

Another story that brought out the problem of the professor accused of sleeping with his students was an anonymous article in the McGill Daily of a student recounting her nearly two-year affair with this professor, the one supposedly from the Institute of Islamic Studies The article published in September 2015 was entitled, “Let’s talk about teacher I slept with my professor and here’s why it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.” The explicit article described how this professor-student relationship developed from office-hour meetings to a working and sexual relationship that tore this student apart with the conflicting roles they played. In her recount, the working relationship played a prominent role in their developing relationship. The work relationship was the legitimate way for them to spend time in his office behind closed doors; a common excuse professors use to justify publicly their inappropriate involvement with a student. After the second year, the student discovered he had been sleeping with other students as well she was not the only one, but one of many.

The student described this professor as she saw him after everything ended, “He was a predator. He was a manipulator. He was a liar. He was using young women as vessels for self-validation. He was abusing his power, and he had no intention of stopping.” She also discovered this professor, “slept with, propositioned, sent inappropriate emails to, or generally made uncomfortable” other female students. The complaints process was daunting and these students feared retribution and reprisals that are so common so they did file. The article published nearly three-years-ago indicated that at that time there where problems also with five professors in different departments, “who had reputations of either serially harassing or sleeping with their students.” The student recounted, “Where some professors were concerned, students spoke of the incidents like they were common knowledge.”

At that point, there were no formal complaints filed against that professor. This fall the students were fed up with this Islamic Studies’ professor at the heart of this scandal as he was up for tenure this academic year, so they initiated their own grassroots protest. At the start of this academic year, stickers were posted in the women’s bathrooms with the Islamic Studies professor’s name, warning other female students. According to the McGill Daily, “Noting that the professor is up for tenure this semester, the stickers urged students to send testimonies of abusive behaviour from faculty and staff to zerotolerance@riseup.net.” The professor in question responded with a denial, saying, “Anonymous accusations have been posted around campus about me that are categorically untrue and constitute defamation. I am deeply committed to doing my part to make every student feel safe in my classroom and on McGill’s campus.”

The university administration seemed to have backed up the professor with Angela Campbell, the Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) writing a defending statement that admonished the students who revealed the professor publicly. Campbell stated, “The University takes all complaints of misconduct seriously.” Continuing Campbell expressed, “Survivors can and should report through the appropriate channels,” and “McGill’s administration disapproves of attempts to address such matters through anonymous posters such as [the stickers] found on campus and is taking measures to remove these.”

Additionally, in the Winter 2017 semester the 2016-2017 executive leaders of the World Islamic and Middle East Studies Student Association (WIMESSA) Sent an open letter objecting to the professor to Robert Wisnovsky, Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies. The letter read, “We (WIMESSA execs) believe that the department is partially not taking this seriously, because they don’t think many undergrads personally care,” read the preamble to the open letter. “There is also no ‘paper trail’ of student concern which makes the department less accountable to the university.” WIMESSA asked the department not to grant the professor tenure, writing, “It is disconcerting that such an abuse of power appears to be going unreprimanded. As it stands, women are at a disadvantage within the Islamic Studies department, and this inequality needs to be corrected. For these reasons, WIMESSA vehemently encourages the impending tenure committee to deny [the professor] tenure.”

The program director never publicly responded, and this year’s WIMESSA executives issued a statement. The statement backtracked and avoided mentioning the particular professor. The executives wrote, “In light of recent events regarding the Islamic Studies Institute, we want to extend our services to the community and support our students in any way we can. […] Sexual violence is a serious issue that we do not tolerate and we recognize the institutional violence that this inherently causes. […] This is a matter that we are taking very seriously and we are working as much as we can within our power to ensure transparency and accountability.”

It is too easy for the lines to be blurred in academia. For professors they are presented with wide-eyed naive students in awe, many enamored with the professors’ charm, sophistication and brilliance, and they easily take advantage of the situation. Many of the young faculty members are often less than then ten years older than the students they teach, for others they never want to see themselves as older than the students. They behave as friends, buddies cross the line into sexual harassment, sexual relationships, but the power dynamic is always there. Professors and students are never equals and it is inappropriate for them to think it is even possible.

Research has proven that power alters the minds of men, making them believe they have the right to behave in the controlling manner that leads to sexual harassment and assault. They believe they have a privilege to behave the way they do and many fail to see how wrong they are. The #MeToo movement in a short six months has swept through the entertainment industry, politics, business and journalism. The movement gave a voice and credibility to women who for years had experienced harassment, abuse and assault in the hands of men in positions of power and then suffered in silence fearing reprisals.

Now it is sweeping academia, but there are set backs. Tenure has always given professors an extra boost in their power, giving them an air of invincibility. Tenure has and is still protecting professors preventing universities from firing professors who behave inappropriately with students. Professors, however, believe universities owe their students to deal with the accused professors, not just fire them, which would allow them to continue their behavior elsewhere. The SSMU’s open letter wants an investigator to examine tenure and tenure-track professors as well, to see if complaints against professors are presented to the tenure committee and to see whether tenure status “can be reassessed following formal complaints against a faculty member.”

The students realize tenure cannot be overturned and the system changed overnight, but they do believe there should be consequences for tenured professors. Spencer commented to the Montreal Gazette, “Right now, if a prof has tenure, they are untouchable. Some of the profs (who are the subjects of repeated complaints) have tenure and some don’t. For the ones who do have tenure, why would anyone bring a complaint forward? … It’s not about, one complaint, therefore fire them, but we need to explore what a procedure for processing complaints against a tenured prof looks like.”

In Montreal, there have already been cracks in that invincibility. This past January at neighboring Concordia University, former students and graduates of the school’s creative writing program came forward against four professors without tenure with allegations going back two decades. The university acted swiftly and dismissed three of the living professors, then launched an investigation. Within two weeks the university issued guidelines on how to deal with professor-student relationships acknowledging there is a “conflict of interest” and an “imbalance of power.”

The events at Concordia inspired SSMU to take action now, and force the university to confront the way they have been dealing or not dealing with complaints against these five repeat offending professors. Spencer commented the press, “We were told that it couldn’t happen, and then we looked over at our neighbour and they were doing it, so we didn’t accept that anymore…I thought, ’If not now, then when,’ If something doesn’t happen now, I don’t know when it’s going to happen.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education April 8, 2018: McGill University now has their #MeToo movement moment as students protest lothario professors 

HEADLINE NEWS

Headline_News

EDUCATION

McGill University now has their #MeToo movement moment as students protest lothario professors

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Montreal universities are now being drawn into the #MeToo movement forced to confront years of sexual harassment and assault that was pushed under the table. First, it was Concordia University, now McGill University is getting barraged for their handling of complaints. On Thursday, April 4, 2018, the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) published an open letter calling for an investigation into the way the university and Faculty of Arts have dealing sexual violence complaints against professors. The letter has been signed by nearly 1,500 students and over 50 clubs and other student societies. The letter accuses administration officials of ignoring complaints against professors in the Faculty of Arts and they are demanding a third-party investigation. The letter and calls are a long time in the making as students and professors have been writing and commenting about the actions of these professors in the Faculty of Arts, who engaged in so called consensual and unwanted inappropriate behavior against students for years.

The president of SSMU and its societies and five vice presidents addressed the letter to Principal Suzanne Fortier, Provost Christopher Manfredi, and Dean of Students Chris Buddle. The letter recounted the situation at the university, but did not name any professors, although students have been naming the professors in unofficial capacities for years. Neither does the letter describe the professors’ actions, although the chatter is quite loud on online forums, personal blogs and the student press, everyone on campus knows who these offenders are.

The letter claims, “These professors continue to teach and to supervise, in some cases teaching mandatory first year courses, leaving vulnerable the students who have not yet been warned about the predatory behaviours of certain professors. It has also been the case that student representatives over this past year have brought up these concerns multiple times to many different members of administration. It was clear that the majority of the administration who were met with knew which professors students are concerned about. And despite our expressing anxiety over the safety and well being of a particular student in one case – no action was taken.”

Connor Spencer, vice-president of external affairs for the Students’ Society of McGill University had a press conference on Thursday, April 5, clarifying the allegations. According to Spencer there are five professors that have misused their positions. The professors are in five different departments in the Faculty of Arts; history, philosophy, political science, psychology and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Among the offenses are “holding office hours in bars with underage students, to routinely sleeping with students who are in their classes, to being in abusive relationships with students they’re supervising.” Additionally, the professors would “make sexually suggestive comments in person and in e-mails.”

Apparently, the situation with these professors is an “open secret” everyone knows what is happening, but nothing is being done to stop these professors from running amok, while students are being discouraged from filing complaints. Spencer told CBC News, “Everyone’s aware of where the problems are, and no one’s doing anything to address it, year after year.” Spencer explained to the Globe and Mail, “Everyone knows the names of the professors and it’s shared among students.” The problem has been happening for at least five years with these specific professors. Spencer recounted that female students have been warning incoming students with a list of professors “whose classes I was not to take.” Female students were warned to never be alone with these professors. Spencer told the Globe and Mail, “If she did take their courses, she was told never to go to their offices ‘if I wanted to keep myself safe.’”

Despite everyone in the university, from the students to the administration know about the problems, the administration refuses to take any actions, because of the lack of formal complaints. Spencer recounted to the Globe and Mail, “We’ve spoken about specific cases with administrators in meetings and still nothing has been done, even though they know that these are reoccurring issues.” Spencer told the Montreal Gazette the SSMU wants the university to take the problem seriously, “We are hoping with this open letter to change the culture of understanding and show (the administration) they need to investigate when there are serious problems that compromise the safety and well being of students … whether or not there are official complaints.”

The SSMU’s letter is a means to force the administration to launch an investigation. The SSMU letter also asked for a remedy to the ongoing problem, their solution a third-party investigation into the method McGill deals with complaints. They want the third-party to review and interview students who made informal and formal complaints to the Dean of Arts against professors for the last five years and review if tenure committees are aware of any complaints. The SSMU wants the findings by this June.

The SSMU made the request in their letter, “We understand that the Faculty of Arts is not the only faculty that has a problem with professors who abuse their power, and we hope that an external investigation into Arts will set a precedent so that in the future McGill will act when they become aware of departmental issues and that above all they will begin to prioritize the safety of their students before the legal liability or reputation of the institution.”

When asked to respond by the press Vice-Principal Louis Arseneault (Communications and External Relations) declined to comment. Arseneault only gave a generic politically correct response in a statement, saying, “McGill University has put in place staff, resources, policies and opportunities for individuals and groups to come forward with their concerns and complaints. These are matters we take very seriously. Every report or complaint of sexual misconduct, abuse of authority through sexual misconduct or ‘predatory behaviour’ that contains sufficiently detailed facts is investigated. If there are findings of sexual misconduct of any kind, appropriate measures are taken, following due process.” Arseneault cited privacy laws in the investigation, stating, “Because of Quebec law concerning privacy, the University cannot disclose when it is conducting investigations, nor reveal any results. Thus, the fact that results are not disclosed is not evidence that investigations did not occur or that they were faulty.”

Provost and Vice-Principal Manfredi also sent a personal responseto Spencer, insisting, “Every report and complaint of misconduct that contains sufficient details is investigated.” Manfredi told Spencer, “As you know from your own work on the Sexual Violence Policy Implementation Committee and from McGill administrators’ ongoing, direct engagement with SSMU executives – yourself included – McGill has in place extensive resources, skilled staff, and robust policies to address matters of sexual violence and to support survivors.”

Despite the university being on defensive as to investigating sexual misconduct complaints, the process deters students from filing a complaint or if they start they usually stop. As Spencer pointed out, “it’s so labour-intensive and retraumatizing.” As with women who file complaints against men in positions of power many are worried they would not be believed. The university has also in past situations attempted to discredit claims that are filed as a deterrent for students filing complaints. The complaints process is also steeped in confidentiality, it is meant to help the students, but does more to protect a an accused faculty member.

Student Geneviève Mercier-Dalphond writing in a March 2016, McGill Daily article entitled, “The vicious circle of professor-student relationships A follow-up investigation of McGill’s policies on sexual harassment” discussed the problems confidentiality in the process causes. Mercier-Dalphond explained, “On a broader level, it sends a message that normalizes student-professor relations, and sets an example for other professors that they can get away with this kind of inappropriate behaviour.”

In December 2016, McGill revised their sexual violence policy, Policy against Sexual Violence, to comply with Quebec’s new Bill 151, requiring schools to have a consolidated sexual violence policy (SVP) including addressing professor-student relationships by 2019. The new SVP deals with violence by the whole McGill community, especially students and operates under the Student Code of Conduct. The policy can “reprimand, expel or suspend a student.” The new policy was three years in the making, and was supposed to have a “survivor-centred approach.” Additionally, the policy “establishes measures that McGill will adopt with respect to prevention, education, support, and response to sexual violence.” The university also created a new sexual assault centre, “dedicated to sexual violence education and response.”

At the time the new policy was passed by the university senate; the students still had misgivings about how complaints would be handled under the new rules. Erin Sobat, the vice-president of university affairs for the SSMU during the 2016-17 academic year commented at the time to CBC News, “What it doesn’t do is address the disciplinary process past the process of filing a report.” Labour laws in Quebec, prohibit the publication of the procedures. The only way to file a complaint against a professor is by filing a complaint for” harassment, violence of coercion.”

The new policy also failed to address professor-student relationships, and complaints against professors; a central problem at the heart of the complaints against one of the professors the open letter is directed. The new SVP says very little about these relationships, writing, “an abuse of a relationship of trust, power or authority, such as the relationship between a professor and their student,” and agreeing they cannot be consensual. The only way to file a complaint against a professor is by filing a complaint for” harassment, violence of coercion.” The complaints are then processed through the Regulations Relating to Employment of Tenure Track and Tenured Academic Staff. Labour laws in Quebec, prohibit the publication of the procedures. The process is so complicated that it dissuades students from filing. Connor explained to the Montreal Gazette, “You have to consult at least six documents full of policy jargon after you’ve just experienced a trauma, and you are not really sure about wanting to do this, anyway. That would discourage anyone from coming forward.”

In December 2017, the McGill Tribune editorial board wrote an opinion piece opposing the lack of policy for such complaints entitled, “McGill’s sexual violence policy lacking on professor-student relationships.” They emphasized what an important gap this is in policy since these relationships cannot be consensual. The board pointed to the conflict of interest with such relationships, and indicated why. The board expressed, “Of more dire ethical concern is the question of consent in these relationships. The power differential between students and professors is enormous—whether acting as an intro-course lecturer or a master’s research supervisor, a professor has substantial control over their students’ success at McGill, and, by extension, their career prospects upon graduation. Given this compromised capacity to object to unwanted sexual advances, it is unethical for a professor to initiate any relationship with a student directly beneath them.”

The #MeToo movement is altering the definition of consent, especially there is a difference power between the two parties in evolved, such as professors getting involved in relationships, and sexually with their students. Students who believe they are getting involved consensually with professors seem to forget, with such a power difference, these relationships can never truly be consensual, because there is no equality. Mercier-Dolphand in the McGill Daily explained, “The student’s power in this dynamic is not comparable, and talking of equality between consenting adults in this case ignores the power differential on which the relationship is built.”

Recently, even former White House intern Monica Lewinsky in a March 2018, Vanity Fair article entitled, “Emerging from the ‘House of Gaslight’ in the age of #metoo” re-examined her relationship with former President Bill Clinton. Lewinsky persistently claimed it was consensual and she was not a victim, but she is currently reconsidering it in light of the #MeToo movement. Lewinsky expressed, “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)”

A former Associate Dean of Arts at York University, Shirley Katz wrote a policy paper on the very issue published in University Affairs in 2000, entitled “Sexual Relations Between Students and Faculty.” To Katz there cannot be consent because of professors’ “power over students” as the nature of role. Katz concludes the power difference is always there making consent in the traditional way impossible for students. Katz wrote, “because the professor’s powers affect the student’s life in a significant way, […] the student cannot say no to the relationship, so her consent is actually coerced compliance.”

Jason M. Opal, associate professor in the Department of History and Classical Studies at McGill commented in the 2015 McGill Daily article, “Let’s talk about teacher,” a student’s anonymous recount of her sexual relationship with one of the professors accused of inappropriate behavior. Opal concurred, the power dynamic affects consent. Opal wrote there are “profound inadequacies of ‘consent’ as a moral and social category.” Continuing, he said, “consent is better than coercion: that is the best thing we can say about it. Opal concluded that the professor student relationship is “inherently problematic, usually exploitative, and often predatory.” The unequal predatory nature is the reason professors involved have to face sanctions and punishments from the university, because they have an obligation to protect their students.

Some of the accounts coming from McGill describe sexual relationships, but they are not the only inappropriate ones. Others blur the line, friendships and emotional relationships that can tether on sexual harassment or impropriety, but avoid the messy sexual dynamic that is easier to prove crossed a line. Even if broken boundaries are easily proved, the university has not been kind to students filing complaints against professors after such relationships. They are not given the same weight as unwanted and forced sexual harassment and assault committed by other students. Universities have been enacting policies that prohibit any personal relationships between students and professors, especially if they are in as position to grade them for some timer already. McGill has yet to address the issue even after revising their sexual assault policy..

Students had a right to be concerned about the revised SVP seeing what is transpiring with the five Arts professors and the way complaints have been brushed aside. The SSMU has been working on an additional policycovering misconduct from students in McGill’s clubs and societies. Closing the “loophole” would make students more comfortable making complaints against fellow students. It would allow the SSMU clubs and societies to remove or sanction someone that has a complaint filed against them, even banning them from the SSMU building. Additionally, it would provide mandatory training in defining and preventing sexual assault for all SSMU associated university clubs and societies.

For over two years there has been rumblings of complaints of transgressions by professors in the Faculty of Arts, particularly, the Department of Political Science, incidentally Provost Manfredi’s old department and the Institute of Islamic Studies. Apparently, there are claims that there is a serial sexual harasser in the department of political science and a serial lothario in the Institute of Islamic Studies. This professor in the Islamic Studies is a central reason for the students and SSMU’s uproar over the university’s mishandlings of professors’ inappropriate behavior.

Former McGill political science professor Stephen Saideman, who taught at the department from 2002 to 2012 wrote about the actions of a professor in his department. Saideman repeatedly wrote about this particular professor in a number of blog posts. In his blog post entitled, “McGill’s Shame Continues” from March 2016, he specifically revealed that this professor was teaching Middle East and peace building studies in the department. Saideman explained in his post why he did not expose the name of the professor. The former McGill professor commented, “I have repeatedly referred to a particular serial sexual harasser […] but obliquely so. Why obliquely so? Because I am not sure what the consequences are for me of violating the confidentiality agreements of a place I used to work and because I didn’t want people to speculate about who received this guy’s unwanted attention.”

A student did successfully file a complaint this particular professor; however, the so-called punishment was hardly enough to deter him from continuing harassing students. Saideman recounted, “[the University] did find in favour of the student, and the provost found that something inappropriate happened at the time, but that it did not fit the definition at the time of sexual harassment. I do believe this is a failure on the part of that provost.” All the university did was change the professor’s office to one where he can be monitored and prevented him from taking on graduate students. In barely no time, the department lapsed, he was back in his old office, and supervising graduate students, even female ones.

In 2016, Saidemen claimed the major problem with the complaints process was confidentiality and the university refusing to name guilty professors. During his time at McGill Saideman used to discourage students from studying that area, as the only means of deterrence he could do. Saideman told the McGill Daily, “The core problem is how McGill has handled it. It was all treated confidentially, which has the effect of protecting the perpetrator…. the job of the University is to protect students.” Saideman was surprised that he was still teaching, saying, “I simply don’t understand why McGill has not fired him yet.”

Another story that brought out the problem of the professor accused of sleeping with his students was an anonymous article in the McGill Daily of a student recounting her nearly two-year affair with this professor, the one supposedly from the Institute of Islamic Studies The article published in September 2015 was entitled, “Let’s talk about teacher I slept with my professor and here’s why it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.” The explicit article described how this professor-student relationship developed from office-hour meetings to a working and sexual relationship that tore this student apart with the conflicting roles they played. In her recount, the working relationship played a prominent role in their developing relationship. The work relationship was the legitimate way for them to spend time in his office behind closed doors; a common excuse professors use to justify publicly their inappropriate involvement with a student. After the second year, the student discovered he had been sleeping with other students as well she was not the only one, but one of many.

The student described this professor as she saw him after everything ended, “He was a predator. He was a manipulator. He was a liar. He was using young women as vessels for self-validation. He was abusing his power, and he had no intention of stopping.” She also discovered this professor, “slept with, propositioned, sent inappropriate emails to, or generally made uncomfortable” other female students. The complaints process was daunting and these students feared retribution and reprisals that are so common so they did file. The article published nearly three-years-ago indicated that at that time there where problems also with five professors in different departments, “who had reputations of either serially harassing or sleeping with their students.” The student recounted, “Where some professors were concerned, students spoke of the incidents like they were common knowledge.”

At that point, there were no formal complaints filed against that professor. This fall the students were fed up with this Islamic Studies’ professor at the heart of this scandal as he was up for tenure this academic year, so they initiated their own grassroots protest. At the start of this academic year, stickers were posted in the women’s bathrooms with the Islamic Studies professor’s name, warning other female students. According to the McGill Daily, “Noting that the professor is up for tenure this semester, the stickers urged students to send testimonies of abusive behaviour from faculty and staff to zerotolerance@riseup.net.” The professor in question responded with a denial, saying, “Anonymous accusations have been posted around campus about me that are categorically untrue and constitute defamation. I am deeply committed to doing my part to make every student feel safe in my classroom and on McGill’s campus.”

The university administration seemed to have backed up the professor with Angela Campbell, the Associate Provost (Policies, Procedures and Equity) writing a defending statement that admonished the students who revealed the professor publicly. Campbell stated, “The University takes all complaints of misconduct seriously.” Continuing Campbell expressed, “Survivors can and should report through the appropriate channels,” and “McGill’s administration disapproves of attempts to address such matters through anonymous posters such as [the stickers] found on campus and is taking measures to remove these.”

Additionally, in the Winter 2017 semester the 2016-2017 executive leaders of the World Islamic and Middle East Studies Student Association (WIMESSA) Sent an open letter objecting to the professor to Robert Wisnovsky, Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies. The letter read, “We (WIMESSA execs) believe that the department is partially not taking this seriously, because they don’t think many undergrads personally care,” read the preamble to the open letter. “There is also no ‘paper trail’ of student concern which makes the department less accountable to the university.” WIMESSA asked the department not to grant the professor tenure, writing, “It is disconcerting that such an abuse of power appears to be going unreprimanded. As it stands, women are at a disadvantage within the Islamic Studies department, and this inequality needs to be corrected. For these reasons, WIMESSA vehemently encourages the impending tenure committee to deny [the professor] tenure.”

The program director never publicly responded, and this year’s WIMESSA executives issued a statement. The statement backtracked and avoided mentioning the particular professor. The executives wrote, “In light of recent events regarding the Islamic Studies Institute, we want to extend our services to the community and support our students in any way we can. […] Sexual violence is a serious issue that we do not tolerate and we recognize the institutional violence that this inherently causes. […] This is a matter that we are taking very seriously and we are working as much as we can within our power to ensure transparency and accountability.”

It is too easy for the lines to be blurred in academia. For professors they are presented with wide-eyed naive students in awe, many enamored with the professors’ charm, sophistication and brilliance, and they easily take advantage of the situation. Many of the young faculty members are often less than then ten years older than the students they teach, for others they never want to see themselves as older than the students. They behave as friends, buddies cross the line into sexual harassment, sexual relationships, but the power dynamic is always there. Professors and students are never equals and it is inappropriate for them to think it is even possible.

Research has proven that power alters the minds of men, making them believe they have the right to behave in the controlling manner that leads to sexual harassment and assault. They believe they have a privilege to behave the way they do and many fail to see how wrong they are. The #MeToo movement in a short six months has swept through the entertainment industry, politics, business and journalism. The movement gave a voice and credibility to women who for years had experienced harassment, abuse and assault in the hands of men in positions of power and then suffered in silence fearing reprisals.

Now it is sweeping academia, but there are set backs. Tenure has always given professors an extra boost in their power, giving them an air of invincibility. Tenure has and is still protecting professors preventing universities from firing professors who behave inappropriately with students. Professors, however, believe universities owe their students to deal with the accused professors, not just fire them, which would allow them to continue their behavior elsewhere. The SSMU’s open letter wants an investigator to examine tenure and tenure-track professors as well, to see if complaints against professors are presented to the tenure committee and to see whether tenure status “can be reassessed following formal complaints against a faculty member.”

The students realize tenure cannot be overturned and the system changed overnight, but they do believe there should be consequences for tenured professors. Spencer commented to the Montreal Gazette, “Right now, if a prof has tenure, they are untouchable. Some of the profs (who are the subjects of repeated complaints) have tenure and some don’t. For the ones who do have tenure, why would anyone bring a complaint forward? … It’s not about, one complaint, therefore fire them, but we need to explore what a procedure for processing complaints against a tenured prof looks like.”

In Montreal, there have already been cracks in that invincibility. This past January at neighboring Concordia University, former students and graduates of the school’s creative writing program came forward against four professors without tenure with allegations going back two decades. The university acted swiftly and dismissed three of the living professors, then launched an investigation. Within two weeks the university issued guidelines on how to deal with professor-student relationships acknowledging there is a “conflict of interest” and an “imbalance of power.”

The events at Concordia inspired SSMU to take action now, and force the university to confront the way they have been dealing or not dealing with complaints against these five repeat offending professors. Spencer commented the press, “We were told that it couldn’t happen, and then we looked over at our neighbour and they were doing it, so we didn’t accept that anymore…I thought, ’If not now, then when,’ If something doesn’t happen now, I don’t know when it’s going to happen.”

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Full Text Political Transcripts November 22, 2016: President Barack Obama’s remarks at his final presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 114TH CONGRESS:

Remarks by the President at Presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Source: WH, 11-22-16

East Room

3:13 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello!  Hey!  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Thank you so much.  Thank you.  Everybody, please have a seat.  We’ve got some work to do here.  (Laughter.)  This is not all fun and games.

Welcome to the White House, everybody.  Today, we celebrate extraordinary Americans who have lifted our spirits, strengthened our union, pushed us toward progress.

I always love doing this event, but this is a particularly impressive class.  We’ve got innovators and artists.  Public servants, rabble rousers, athletes, renowned character actors — like the guy from Space Jam.  (Laughter.)  We pay tribute to those distinguished individuals with our nation’s highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about each of them.

First, we came close to missing out on Bill and Melinda Gates’ incredible partnership.  Because apparently Bill’s opening line was, “Do you want to go out two weeks from this coming Saturday?”  (Laughter.)  He’s good with computers, but — (laughter.)

Fortunately, Melinda believes in second chances.  And the world is better for it.  For two decades, the Gates Foundation has worked to provide lifesaving medical care to millions — boosting clean water supplies, improving education for our children, rallying aggressive international action on climate change, cutting childhood mortality in half.  The list could go on.

These two have donated more money to charitable causes than anyone, ever.  Many years ago, Melinda’s mom told her an old saying: “To know that even one life has breathed easier because you lived — that is success.”  By this and just about any other measure, few in human history have been more successful than these two impatient optimists.

Frank Gehry has never let popular acclaim reverse his impulse to defy convention.  “I was an outsider from the beginning,” he says, “so for better or worse, I thrived on it.”  The child of poor Jewish immigrants, Frank grew up in Los Angeles, and throughout his life he embraced the spirit of a city defined by an open horizon.  He’s spent his life rethinking shapes and mediums, seemingly the force of gravity itself; the idea of what architecture could be he decided to upend — constantly repurposing every material available, from titanium to a paper towel tube.  He’s inspiring our next generation through his advocacy for arts education in our schools.  From the Guggenheim, to Bilbao, to Chicago’s Millennium Park — our hometown — to his home in Santa Monica, which I understand caused some consternation among his neighbors — (laughter) — Frank’s work teaches us that while buildings may be sturdy and fixed to the ground, like all great art, they can lift our spirits.  They can soar and broaden our horizons.

When an undergraduate from rural Appalachia first set foot on the National Mall many years ago, she was trying to figure out a way to show that “war is not just a victory or a loss,” but “about individual lives.”  She considered how the landscape might shape that message, rather than the other way around.  The project that Maya Lin designed for her college class earned her a B+ — (laughter) — and a permanent place in American history.  (Laughter.)  So all of you B+ students out there.  (Laughter.)

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial has changed the way we think about monuments, but also about how we think about sacrifice, and patriotism, and ourselves.  Maya has given us more than just places for remembering — she has created places for us to make new memories.  Her sculptures, chapels, and homes are “physical act[s] of poetry,” each reminding us that the most important element in art or architecture is human emotion.

Three minutes before Armstrong and Aldrin touched down on the moon, Apollo 11’s lunar lander alarms triggered — red and yellow lights across the board.  Our astronauts didn’t have much time.  But thankfully, they had Margaret Hamilton.  A young MIT scientist — and a working mom in the ‘60s — Margaret led the team that created the onboard flight software that allowed the Eagle to land safely.  And keep in mind that, at this time, software engineering wasn’t even a field yet.  There were no textbooks to follow, so, as Margaret says, “There was no choice but to be pioneers.”

Luckily for us, Margaret never stopped pioneering.  And she symbolizes the generation of unsung women who helped send humankind into space.  Her software architecture echoes in countless technologies today.  And her example speaks of the American spirit of discovery that exists in every little girl and little boy who know that somehow, to look beyond the heavens is to look deep within ourselves — and to figure out just what is possible.

If Wright is flight and Edison is light, then Hopper is code.  Born in 1906, Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper followed her mother into mathematics, earned her PhD from Yale, and set out on a long and storied career.  At age 37, and a full 15 pounds below military guidelines, the gutsy and colorful Grace joined the Navy and was sent to work on one of the first computers, Harvard’s “Mark One.”

She saw beyond the boundaries of the possible, and invented the first compiler, which allowed programs to be written in regular language and then translated for computers to understand.  While the women who pioneered software were often overlooked, the most prestigious award for young computer scientists now bear her name.  From cell phones to cyber command, we can thank Grace Hopper for opening programming to millions more people, helping to usher in the information age and profoundly shaping our digital world.

Speaking of really smart people — (laughter) — in the summer of 1950, a young University of Chicago physicist found himself at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  Dick Garwin was there, he said, because Chicago paid its faculty for nine months but his family ate for 12.  So by the next summer, Dick had helped create the hydrogen bomb.  And for the rest of his life, he dedicated himself to reducing the threat of nuclear war.  Dick’s not only an architect of the atomic age.  Ever since he was a Cleveland kid tinkering with his father’s movie projectors, he’s never met a problem he didn’t want to solve.  Reconnaissance satellites, the MRI, GPS technology, the touchscreen all bear his fingerprints.  He even patented a “mussel washer” for shellfish — which I haven’t used.  The other stuff I have.  (Laughter.)  Where is he?

Dick has advised nearly every President since Eisenhower — often rather bluntly.  Enrico Fermi — also a pretty smart guy himself — is said to have called Dick “the only true genius” he ever met.  I do want to see this mussel washer.  (Laughter.)

Along with these scientists, artists, and thinkers, we also honor those who have shaped our culture from the stage and the screen.

In her long and extraordinary career, Cicely Tyson has not only succeeded as an actor, she has shaped the whole course history.  Cicely was never the likeliest of Hollywood stars.  The daughter of immigrants from the West Indies, she was raised by a hardworking and religious mother who cleaned houses and forbade her children to attend the movies.  But once she got her education and broke into the business, Cicely made a conscious decision not just to say lines, but to speak out.  “I would not accept roles,” she said, “unless they projected us, particularly women, in a realistic light, [and] dealt with us as human beings.”  And from “Sounder,” to “The Trip to Bountiful,” to “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” Cicely’s convictions and grace have helped for us see the dignity of every single beautiful member of the American family.  And she’s just gorgeous.  (Laughter and applause.)  Yes, she is.

In 1973, a critic wrote of Robert De Niro, “This kid doesn’t just act — he takes off into the vapors.”  And it was true, his characters are iconic.  A Sicilian father turned New York mobster.  A mobster who runs a casino.  A mobster who needs therapy.  (Laughter.)  A father-in-law who is scarier than a mobster.  (Laughter.)  Al Capone — a mobster.  (Laughter.)

Robert combines dramatic precision and, it turns out, comedic timing with his signature eye for detail.  And while the name De Niro is synonymous with “tough guy,” his true gift is the sensitivity that he brings to each role.  This son of New York artists didn’t stop at becoming one of the world’s greatest actors.  He’s also a director, a philanthropist, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival.  Of his tireless preparation — from learning the saxophone to remaking his body — he once said, “I feel I have to earn the right to play a part.”  And the result is honest and authentic art that reveals who we really are.

In 1976, Lorne Michaels implored the Beatles to reunite on his brand new show.  In exchange, he offered them $3,000.  (Laughter.)  And then he told them they could share it equally, or they could give Ringo a smaller cut.  (Laughter.)  Which was early proof that Lorne Michaels has a good sense of humor.

On Saturday Night Live, he’s created a world where a band of no-names become comedy’s biggest stars.  Where our friends the Coneheads, and cheerleaders, and land sharks, and basement deadbeats, and motivational speakers, and an unfrozen caveman lawyer show up, and Tom Hanks is on “Black Jeopardy.”  (Laughter.)  After four decades, even in this fractured media culture that we’ve got, SNL remains appointment viewing; a mainline into not just our counterculture but our culture; still a challenge to the powerful, especially folks like me.

And yet even after all these years, Lorne jokes that his tombstone should bear just a single word that’s often found in the show’s reviews — “uneven.”  (Laughter.)  As a current U.S. Senator would say:  Doggone it, Lorne – that’s why people like you.  He produced a Senator, too, that’s pretty impressive.

Ellen DeGeneres has a way of making you laugh about something rather than at someone.  Except when I danced on her show — she laughed at me.  (Laughter.)  But that’s okay.

It’s easy to forget now, when we’ve come so far, where now marriage is equal under the law — just how much courage was required for Ellen to come out on the most public of stages almost 20 years ago.  Just how important it was not just to the LGBT community, but for all of us to see somebody so full of kindness and light, somebody we liked so much, somebody who could be our neighbor or our colleague or our sister challenge our own assumptions, remind us that we have more in common than we realize, push our country in the direction of justice.

What an incredible burden that was to bear.  To risk your career like that.  People don’t do that very often.  And then to have the hopes of millions on your shoulders.  But it’s like Ellen says:  We all want a tortilla chip that can support the weight of guacamole.  Which really makes no sense to me, but I thought would brighten the mood, because I was getting kind of choked up.  (Laughter.)  And she did pay a price — we don’t remember this.  I hadn’t remembered it.  She did, for a pretty long stretch of time — even in Hollywood.

And yet, today, every day, in every way, Ellen counters what too often divides us with the countless things that bind us together — inspires us to be better, one joke, one dance at a time.

When The Candidate wins his race in the iconic 1972 film of the same name, which continues, by the way, for those of you who haven’t seen it, and many of you are too young — perhaps the best movie about what politics is actually like, ever.  He famously asks his campaign manager the reflective and revealing question:  “What do we do now?”  And like the man he played in that movie, Robert Redford has figured it out and applied his talent and charm to achieve success.

We admire Bob not just for his remarkable acting, but for having figured out what to do next.  He created a platform for independent filmmakers with the Sundance Institute.  He has supported our National Parks and our natural resources as one of the foremost conservationists of our generation.  He’s given his unmatched charisma to unforgettable characters like Roy Hobbs, Nathan Muir, and of course the Sundance Kid, entertaining us for more than half a century.  As an actor, director, producer, and as an advocate, he has not stopped — and apparently drives so fast that he had breakfast in Napa and dinner in Salt Lake.  (Laughter.)  At 80 years young, Robert Redford has no plans to slow down.

According to a recent headline, the movie, Sully was the last straw.  We should never travel with Tom Hanks.  (Laughter.)  I mean, you think about, you got pirates, plane crashes, you get marooned in airport purgatory, volcanoes — something happens with Tom Hanks.  (Laughter.)  And yet somehow, we can’t resist going where he wants to take us.  He’s been an accidental witness to history, a crusty women’s baseball manager, an everyman who fell in love with Meg Ryan three times.  (Laughter.)  Made it seem natural to have a volleyball as your best friend.  From a Philadelphia courtroom, to Normandy’s beachheads, to the dark side of the moon, he has introduced us to America’s unassuming heroes.

Tom says he just saw “ordinary guys who did the right thing at the right time.”  Well, it takes one to know one, and “America’s Dad” has stood up to cancer with his beloved wife, Rita.  He has championed our veterans, supported space exploration, and the truth is, Tom has always saved his best roles for real life.  He is a good man — which is the best title you can have.

So we got innovators, entertainers — three more folks who’ve dedicated themselves to public service.

In the early 1960s, thousands of Cuban children fled to America, seeking an education they’d never get back home.  And one refugee was 15-year-old named Eduardo Padron, whose life changed when he enrolled at Miami Dade College.  That decision led to a bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s degree, then a PhD, and then he had a choice — he could go into corporate America, or he could give back to his alma mater.  And Eduardo made his choice — to create more stories just like his.

As Miami Dade’s President since 1995, Dr. Padron has built a “dream factory” for one of our nation’s most diverse student bodies — 165,000 students in all.  He’s one of the world’s preeminent education leaders — thinking out of the box, supporting students throughout their lives, embodying the belief that we’re only as great as the doors we open.  Eduardo’s example is one we all can follow — a champion for those who strive for the same American Dream that first drew him to our shores.

When Elouise Cobell first filed a lawsuit to recover lands and money for her people, she didn’t set out to be a hero.  She said, “I just wanted…to give justice to people that didn’t have it.”  And her lifelong quest to address the mismanagement of American Indian lands, resources, and trust funds wasn’t about special treatment, but the equal treatment at the heart of the American promise.  She fought for almost 15 years — across three Presidents, seven trials, 10 appearances before a federal appeals court.  All the while, she traveled the country some 40 weeks a year, telling the story of her people.  And in the end, this graduate of a one-room schoolhouse became a MacArthur Genius.  She is a proud daughter of Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.  Reached ultimately a historic victory for all Native Americans.  Through sheer force of will and a belief that the truth will win out, Elouise Cobell overcame the longest odds, reminding us that fighting for what is right is always worth it.

Now, every journalist in the room, every media critic knows the phrase Newt Minow coined: the “vast wasteland.”  But the two words Newt prefers we remember from his speech to the nation’s broadcasters are these: “public interest.”  That’s been the heartbeat of his life’s work — advocating for residents of public housing, advising a governor and Supreme Court justice, cementing presidential debates as our national institution, leading the FCC.

When Newt helped launch the first communications satellites, making nationwide broadcasts possible — and eventually GPS possible and cellphones possible — he predicted it would be more important than the moon landing.  “This will launch ideas into space,” he said, “and ideas last longer than people.”  As far as I know, he’s the only one of today’s honorees who was present on my first date with Michelle.  (Laughter.)  Imagine our surprise when we saw Newt, one of our bosses that summer, at the movie theater — Do the Right Thing.  So he’s been vital to my personal interests.  (Laughter.)

And finally, we honor five of the all-time greats in sports and music.

The game of baseball has a handful of signature sounds.  You hear the crack of the bat.  You got the crowd singing in the seventh inning stretch.  And you’ve got the voice of Vin Scully.  Most fans listen to a game’s broadcast when they can’t be at the ballpark.  Generations of Dodger fans brought their radios into the stands because you didn’t want to miss one of Vin’s stories.

Most play-by-play announcers partner with an analyst in the booth to chat about the action.  Vin worked alone and talked just with us.  Since Jackie Robinson started at second base, Vin taught us the game and introduced us to its players.  He narrated the improbable years, the impossible heroics, turned contests into conversations.  When he heard about this honor, Vin asked with characteristic humility, “Are you sure?  I’m just an old baseball announcer.”  And we had to inform him that to Americans of all ages, you are an old friend.  In fact, I thought about him doing all these citations, which would have been very cool, but I thought we shouldn’t make him sing for his supper like that.  (Laughter.)  “Up next” — (Laughter.)

Here’s how great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was:  1967, he had spent a year dominating college basketball, the NCAA bans the dunk.  They’d didn’t say it was about Kareem, but it was about Kareem.  (Laughter.)  When a sport changes its rules to make it harder just for you, you are really good.  (Laughter and applause.)  And yet despite the rule change, he was still the sport’s most unstoppable force.  It’s a title he’d hold for more than two decades, winning NBA Finals MVPs a staggering 14 years apart.  (Someone sneezes.)  Bless you.  (Laughter.)

And as a surprisingly similar-looking co-pilot, Roger Murdoch, once said in the movie, Airplane — I mean, we’ve got some great actors here — Space Jam, Airplane.  (Laughter.)  He did it all while dragging Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.  But the reason we honor Kareem is more than just a pair of goggles and the skyhook.  He stood up for his Muslim faith when it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t popular.  He’s as comfortable sparring with Bruce Lee as he is advocating on Capitol Hill or writing with extraordinary eloquence about patriotism.  Physically, intellectually, spiritually — Kareem is one-of-a-kind — an American who illuminates both our most basic freedoms and our highest aspirations.

When he was five years old, Michael Jordan nearly cut off his big toe with an axe.  (Laughter.)  Back then, his handles needed a little work.  But think — if things had gone differently, Air Jordan just might never have taken flight.  (Laughter.)  I mean, you don’t want to buy a shoe with one toe missing.  (Laughter.)  We may never have seen him switch hands in mid-air against the Lakers.  Or drop 63 in the Garden.  Or gut it out in the flu game.  Or hit “the shot” three different times — over Georgetown, over Ehlo, over Russell.  We might not have seen him take on Larry Bird in H-O-R-S-E or lift up the sport globally along with the Dream Team.

Yet MJ is still more than those moments; more than just the best player on the two greatest teams of all time — the Dream Team and the Chicago ’96 Bulls.  He’s more than a logo, more than just an Internet meme.  (Laughter.)  More than just a charitable donor or a business owner committed to diversity.  There is a reason you call someone “the Michael Jordan of” — Michael Jordan of neurosurgery, or the Michael Jordan of rabbis, or the Michael Jordan of outrigger canoeing — and they know what you’re talking about.  Because Michael Jordan is the Michael Jordan of greatness.  He is the definition of somebody so good at what they do that everybody recognizes them.  That’s pretty rare.

As a child, Diana Ross loved singing and dancing for family friends — but not for free.  (Laughter.)  She was smart enough to pass the hat.  And later, in Detroit’s Brewster housing projects, she met Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard.  Their neighbor, Smokey Robinson, put them in front of Berry Gordy — and the rest was magic — music history.  The Supremes earned a permanent place in the American soundtrack.

Along with her honey voice, her soulful sensibility, Diana exuded glamour and grace that filled stages that helped to shape the sound of Motown.  On top of becoming one of the most successful recording artists of all time, raised five kids — somehow found time to earn an Oscar nomination for acting.  Today, from the hip-hop that samples her, to the young singers who’ve been inspired by her, to the audiences that still cannot get enough of her — Diana Ross’s influence is inescapable as ever.

He was sprung from a cage out on Highway 9.  A quiet kid from Jersey, just trying to make sense of the temples of dreams and mystery that dotted his hometown — pool halls, bars, girls and cars, altars and assembly lines.  And for decades, Bruce Springsteen has brought us all along on a journey consumed with the bargains between ambition and injustice, and pleasure and pain; the simple glories and scattered heartbreak of everyday life in America.

To create one of his biggest hits, he once said, “I wanted to craft a record that sounded like the last record on Earth…the last one you’d ever need to hear.  One glorious noise…then the apocalypse.”  Every restless kid in America was given a story: “Born to Run.”

He didn’t stop there.  Once he told us about himself, he told us about everybody else.  The steelworker in “Youngstown.”  The Vietnam Vet in “Born in the USA.”  The sick and the marginalized on “The Streets of Philadelphia.”  The firefighter carrying the weight of a reeling but resilient nation on “The Rising.”  The young soldier reckoning with “Devils and Dust” in Iraq.  The communities knocked down by recklessness and greed in the “Wrecking Ball.”  All of us, with all our faults and our failings, every color, and class, and creed, bound together by one defiant, restless train rolling toward “The Land of Hope and Dreams.”  These are all anthems of our America; the reality of who we are, and the reverie of who we want to be.

“The hallmark of a rock and roll band,” Bruce Springsteen once said, is that “the narrative you tell together is bigger than anyone could have told on your own.”  And for decades, alongside the Big Man, Little Steven, a Jersey girl named Patti, and all the men and women of the E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen has been carrying the rest of us on his journey, asking us all “what is the work for us to do in our short time here.”

I am the President.  But he is The Boss.  (Laughter.)  And pushing 70, he’s still laying down four-hour live sets — if you have been at them, he is working.  “Fire-breathing rock ‘n’ roll.”  So I thought twice about giving him a medal named for freedom because we hope he remains, in his words, a “prisoner of rock ‘n’ roll” for years to come.

So, I told you, this is like a really good class.  (Laughter.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I want you all to give it up for the recipients of the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom.  (Applause.)  It is a good group.

All right.  Now we actually got to give them medals.  So please be patient.  We are going to have my military aide read the citations.  Each one of them will come up and receive the medals, and then we’ll wrap up the program.

Okay.  Let’s hit it.

MILITARY AIDE:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.  (Applause.)  An iconic basketball player who revolutionized the sport with his all-around play and signature skyhook, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a 19-time All-Star, a 6-time world champion, and the leading scorer in NBA history.  Adding to his achievements on the court he also left his mark off of it, advocating for civil rights, cancer research, science education, and social justice.  In doing so, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar leaves a towering legacy of compassion, faith, and service to others — a legacy based not only on the strength and grace of his athleticism, but on the sharpness of his mind and the size of his heart.  (Applause.)

Turk Cobell, accepting on behalf of his mother, Elouise C. Cobell Yellowbird Woman.  (Applause.)  A member of the Blackfeet Nation, Elouise Cobell spent her life defying the odds and working on behalf of her people.  As a young woman, she was told that she wasn’t capable of understanding accounting.  So she mastered the field — and used her expertise to champion a lawsuit whose historic settlement has helped restore Tribal homelands to her beloved Blackfeet Nation and many other Tribes.  Today, her tenacious and unwavering spirit lives on in the thousands of people and hundreds of Tribes for whom she fought and in all those she taught to believe that it is never too late to right the wrongs of the past and help shape a better future.  (Applause.)

Ellen DeGeneres.  (Applause.)  In a career spanning three decades, Ellen DeGeneres has lifted our spirits and brought joy to our lives as a stand-up comic, actor, and television star.  In every role, she reminds us to be kind to one another and to treat people as each of us wants to be treated.  At a pivotal moment, her courage and candor helped change the hearts and minds of millions of Americans, accelerating our Nation’s constant drive toward equality and acceptance for all.  Again and again, Ellen DeGeneres has shown us that a single individual can make the world a more fun, more open, more loving place — so long as we “just keep swimming.”  (Applause.)

Robert De Niro.  (Applause.)  For over 50 years, Robert De Niro has delivered some of screen’s most memorable performances, cementing his place as one of the most gifted actors of his generation.  From “The Godfather Part II” and “The Deer Hunter” to “Midnight Run” and “Heat,” his work is legendary for its range and depth.  Relentlessly committed to his craft, De Niro embodies his characters, creating rich, nuanced portraits that reflect the heart of the human experience.  Regardless of genre or era, Robert De Niro continues to demonstrate that extraordinary skill that has made him one of America’s most revered and influential artists.  (Applause.)

Richard L. Garwin.  (Applause.)  One of the most renowned scientific and engineering minds of our time, Dr. Richard Garwin has always answered the call to help solve society’s most challenging problems.  He has coupled his pioneering work in defense and intelligence technologies with leadership that underscores the urgency for humanity to control the spread of nuclear arms.  Through his advice to Republican and Democratic administrations dating to President Eisenhower, his contributions in fundamental research, and his inventions that power technologies that drive our modern world, Richard Garwin has contributed not only to this Nation’s security and prosperity, but to the quality of life for people all over the world.  (Applause.)

William H. Gates III and Melinda French Gates.  (Applause.)  Few people have had the profound global impact of Bill and Melinda Gates.  Through their work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they’ve demonstrated how the most capable and fortunate among us have a responsibility to use their talents and resources to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.  From helping women and girls lift themselves and their families out of poverty to empowering young minds across America, they have transformed countless lives with their generosity and innovation.  Bill and Melinda Gates continue to inspire us with their impatient optimism that, together, we can remake the world as it should be.  (Applause.)

Frank Gehry.  (Applause.)  Never limited by conventional materials, styles, or processes, Frank Gehry’s bold and thoughtful structures demonstrate architecture’s power to induce wonder and revitalize communities.  A creative mind from an early age, he began his career by building imaginary homes and cities with scrap material from his grandfather’s hardware store.  Since then, his work continues to strike a balance between experimentation and functionality, resulting in some of the 20th century’s most iconic buildings.  From his pioneering use of technology to the dozens of awe-inspiring sites that bear his signature style to his public service as a citizen artist through his work with Turnaround Arts, Frank Gehry has proven himself an exemplar scholar of American innovation.  (Applause.)

Margaret Heafield Hamilton.  (Applause.)  A pioneer in technology, Margaret Hamilton defined new forms of software engineering and helped launch an industry that would forever change human history.  Her software architecture led to giant leaps for humankind, writing the code that helped America set foot on the moon.  She broke barriers in founding her own software businesses, revolutionizing an industry and inspiring countless women to participate in STEM fields.  Her love of exploration and innovation are the source code of the American spirit, and her genius has inspired generations to reach for the stars.  (Applause.)

Thomas J. Hanks.  (Applause.)  Throughout a distinguished film career, Tom Hanks has revealed the character of America, as well as his own.  Portraying war heroes, an astronaut, a ship captain, a cartoon cowboy, a young man growing up too fast, and dozens of others, he’s allowed us to see ourselves — not only as we are, but as we aspire to be.  On screen and off, Tom Hanks has honored the sacrifices of those who have served our Nation, called on us all to think big and to believe, and inspired a new generation of young people to reach for the sky.  (Laughter and applause.)

Deborah Murray, accepting on behalf of her great aunt, Grace Murray Hopper.  (Applause.)  As a child who loved disassembling alarm clocks, Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper found her calling early.  A Vassar alumna with a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale, Hopper served in the Navy during World War II, becoming one of the first programmers in early computing.  Known today as the “Queen of Code,” Grace Hopper’s work helped make the coding language more practical and accessible.  She invented the first compiler, or translator, a fundamental element of our now digital world.  “Amazing Grace” was committed to making the language of computer programming more universal.  Today, we honor her contributions to computer science and the sense of possibility she inspired in generations of young people.  (Applause.)

Michael J. Jordan.  (Applause and laughter.)  Powered by a drive to compete that earned him every major award in basketball, including six NBA championships, five Most Valuable Player awards, and two gold medals, Michael Jordan has a name that’s become a synonym for excellence.  His wagging tongue and high-flying dunks redefined the game, making him a global superstar whose impact transcended basketball and shaped our Nation’s broader culture.  From the courts in Wilmington, Chapel Hill, and Chicago to the owner’s suite he occupies today, his life and example have inspired millions of Americans to strive to “Be Like Mike.”  (Applause.)

Maya Y. Lin.  (Applause.)  Boldly challenging our understanding of the world, Maya Lin’s designs have brought people of all walks of life together in spirits of remembrance, introspection, and humility.  The manipulation of natural terrain and topography within her works inspires us to bridge our differences and recognize the gravity of our collective existence.  Her pieces have changed the landscape of our country and influenced the dialogue of our society — never more profoundly than with her tribute to the Americans who fell in Vietnam by cutting a wound into the Earth to create a sacred place of healing in our Nation’s capital.  (Applause.)

Lorne Michaels.  (Applause.)  One of the most transformative entertainment figures of our time, Lorne Michaels followed his dreams to New York City, where he created a sketch show that brought satire, wits, and modern comedy to homes around the world.  Under his meticulous command as executive producer, “Saturday Night Live” has entertained audiences across generations, reflecting — and shaping — critical elements of our cultural, political, and national life.  Lorne Michaels’ creative legacy stretches into late-night television, sitcoms, and the big screen, making us laugh, challenging us to think, and raising the bar for those who follow.  As one of his show’s signature characters would say, “Well, isn’t that special?”  (Laughter and applause.)

Newton N. Minow.  (Applause.)  As a soldier, counsel to the Governor of Illinois, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and law clerk to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Newton Minow’s career has been defined by his devotion to others.  Deeply committed to his family, the law, and the American people, his dedication to serving and empowering the public is reflected in his efforts to ensure that broadcast media educates and provides opportunity for all.  Challenging the media to better serve their viewers, his staunch commitment to the power of ideas and information has transformed telecommunications and its influential role in our society.  (Applause.)

Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón.  (Applause.)  As a teenage refugee from Cuba, Eduardo Padrón came to the United States to pursue the American Dream, and he has spent his life making that dream real for others.  As president of the community college he once attended, his thoughtful leadership and commitment to education have transformed Miami Dade College into one of the premier learning institutions in the country, earning him praise around the world.  His personal story and lasting professional influence prove that success need not be determined by our background, but by our dedication to others and our passion for creating America that is as inclusive as it is prosperous.  (Applause.)

Robert Redford.  (Applause.)  Robert Redford has captivated audiences from both sides of the camera through entertaining motion pictures that often explore vital social, political, and historical themes.  His lifelong advocacy on behalf of preserving our environment will prove as an enduring legacy as his award-winning films, as will his pioneering support for independent filmmakers across America.  His art and activism continue to shape our Nation’s cultural heritage, inspiring millions to laugh, cry, think, and change.  (Applause.)

Diana Ross.  (Applause and laughter.)  A daughter of Detroit, Diana Ross helped create the sound of Motown with her iconic voice.  From her groundbreaking work with The Supremes to a solo career that has spanned decades, she has influenced generations of young artists and shaped our Nation’s musical landscape.  In addition to a GRAMMY© Lifetime Achievement Award and countless musical accolades, Diana Ross has distinguished herself as an actor, earning an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe Award.  With over 25 albums, unforgettable hit singles, and live performances that continue to captivate audiences around the world, Diana Ross still reigns supreme.  (Applause.)

Next up, Vin Scully.  (Laughter and applause.)  With a voice that transcended a sport and transformed a profession, Vin Scully narrated America’s pastime for generations of fans.  Known to millions as the soundtrack of summer, he found time to teach us about life and love while chronicling routine plays and historic heroics.  In victory and in defeat, his colorful accounts reverberated through the bleachers, across the airwaves, and into our homes and imaginations.  He is an American treasure and a beloved storyteller, and our country’s gratitude for Vin Scully is as profound as his love for the game.  (Applause.)

Bruce F. Springsteen.  (Applause.)  As a songwriter, a humanitarian, America’s Rock and Roll laureate, and New Jersey’s greatest ambassador, Bruce Springsteen is, quite simply, The Boss.  (Laughter.)  Through stories about ordinary people, from Vietnam veterans to steel workers, his songs capture the pain and the promise of the American experience.  With his legendary E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen leaves everything on stage in epic, communal live performances that have rocked audiences for decades.  With empathy and honesty, he holds up a mirror to who we are — as Americans chasing our dreams, and as human beings trying to do the right thing.  There’s a place for everyone in Bruce Springsteen’s America.  (Applause.)

Cicely Tyson.  (Applause.)  For sixty years, Cicely Tyson has graced the screen and the stage, enlightening us with her groundbreaking characters and calls to conscience, humility, and hope.  Her achievements as an actor, her devotion to her faith, and her commitment to advancing equality for all Americans—especially women of color — have touched audiences of multiple generations.  From “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” to “Sounder,” to “The Trip to Bountiful,” Cicely Tyson’s performances illuminate the character of our people and the extraordinary possibilities of America.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  So, just on a personal note, part of the reason that these events are so special to me is because everybody on this stage has touched me in a very powerful, personal way — in ways that they probably couldn’t imagine.  Whether it was having been inspired by a song, or a game, or a story, or a film, or a monument, or in the case of Newt Minow introducing me to Michelle — (laughter) — these are folks who have helped make me who I am and think about my presidency, and what also makes them special is, this is America.

And it’s useful when you think about this incredible collection of people to realize that this is what makes us the greatest nation on Earth.  Not because of what we — (applause.)  Not because of our differences, but because, in our difference, we find something common to share.  And what a glorious thing that is.  What a great gift that is to America.

So I want all of you to enjoy the wonderful reception that will be taking place afterwards.  Michelle and I have to get back to work, unfortunately, but I hear the food is pretty good.  (Laughter.)  And I would like all of you to give one big rousing round of applause to our 2016 honorees for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Give it up.  (Applause.)

END
4:14 P.M. EST

Political Musings June 7, 2015: John Kerry’s bicycle injuries, accident or assassination attempt?

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

John Kerry’s bicycle injuries, accident or assassination attempt?

June 7, 2015

A rumor is going around in the Middle East media that Secretary of State John Kerry’s bicycle accident was not in fact an accident, but rather an assassination attempt by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS representatives..

Political Musings April 26, 2015: Obama’s anger management issues at White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Obama’s anger management issues at White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech

April 26, 2015

President Barack Obama showed that under the cool no drama Obama veneer there are anger issues, simmering beneath the surface in his funny and sometimes-mean White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech. On Saturday evening, April 25, 2015 Obama delivered…

Political Musings January 12, 2015: Obama admits he was wrong should have sent high profile official to Paris rally

POLITICAL MUSINGS

https://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/pol_musings.jpg?w=600

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

Obama admits he was wrong should have sent high profile official to Paris rally

By Bonnie K. Goodman

President Barack Obama finally admitted he was wrong. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during the daily press briefing on Monday, Jan. 12, that the administration “should have sent someone with a higher profile” to the…READ MORE

Brent Glass: Retires as Director of Smithsonian’s American History Museum

 HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAPHistory Buzz

Dr. Brent Glass has announced he is leaving his position as director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History effective July 10; he will continue at the Smithsonian as a senior advisor through the end of this year.

Glass has served as director of the museum since 2002 and overseen the most extensive renovation of the museum in its history, the conservation of the Star-Spangled Banner and the installation of major new exhibitions on transportation, maritime history, military history and first ladies’ gowns.

The Museum of American History is the third-busiest museum in the Smithsonian complex with more than 4 million visitors in 2010. It has a staff of 250, an annual federal budget of about $30 million and about 3 million artifacts. During Glass’ tenure, the museum has raised more than $60 million from individuals, foundations and corporations.
.
During Glass’ tenure at the museum the building underwent an $85 million renovation that took nearly 2½ years. When it reopened in November 2008, it included an entirely new core with a dramatic skylight and glass staircase opening up the atrium and a new exhibition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Glass considers the renovation of the core of the building, completed in 2008, to be the highlight of his nine years at the Smithsonian.

Before joining the Smithsonian, Glass served for 15 years (1987–2002) as executive director of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in Harrisburg, Pa., which included 25 sites. He oversaw major expansion and renovation projects at several historic sites and museums around the state and led an effort to conserve the Pennsylvania Charter and other important documents and artifacts.

He earned his doctorate in philosophy and history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his master’s degree in American Civilization at New York University and a bachelor’s degree at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania.

An acting director for the museum will be appointed in July. Glass will serve as Senior Advisor to the Office of the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture. A national search for a new director for the museum will begin immediately, headed up by Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture with the assistance of an executive search firm.

%d bloggers like this: