November 17, 2003
'Bloom with Books' Celebrates Reading
| November 17, 2003
You’ve seen the “Read to Me Any Time, Any Place” banners hanging on various buildings throughout the city of Ithaca — but who is behind them and what do they represent?
The banners, mounted in prominent locations such as the Tompkins County Public Library, Ithaca High School, Cornell University Press, the Triphammer Mall Clock Tower and Wegmans, are promoting the Family Book Partnership (FBP) and its yearly events and fundraisers.
Brigid Hubberman, executive director of the FBP, said that “the impact of the banners goes far beyond the beautiful artwork and simple, yet powerful message to parents and caregivers to read to their children, they represent what we value as a community; learning, art, children and families.”
This weekend, the Boynton Middle School, located next to Ithaca High School, hosted the “Bloom with Books” Kids’ Book Fest, the FRP’s feature event of the year. The event certainly appeared to bloom as over 2000 children, along with their parents and friends attended the communal educational event.
Walking into the middle school, participants were transported into a garden-type setting, filled with smiling children running about making puppets, creating their own story books, watching various interactive stage productions and singing songs. As children and adults made their way throughout the recreated garden d
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November 18, 2003
Former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) drew a mixed reception yesterday at her first public appearance as a Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of ’56 University Professor. McKinney lectured and then fielded questions from students in GOVT 366: American Political Thought from Madison to Malcolm X taught by Isaac Kramnick, the R.J. Schwartz Professor of Government and vice provost for undergraduate education. McKinney was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s fourth congressional district in 1992, becoming the first African-American woman from the State of Georgia to be elected to the U.S. Congress. McKinney’s three-year appointment at Cornell has created much controversy in Ithaca over the Rhodes selection process and has garnered national media attention because of McKinney’s outspoken criticism of the Bush administration. In his introductory remarks, Kramnick gave a brief bio of McKinney, including her graduation from the University of Southern California in 1978. “Why’d you have to give the year?” McKinney piped in from her seat on the side of Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium. McKinney then proceeded to give a brief lecture in which she touched on the people and experiences that have influenced who she is today. “It was a heck of a day yesterday,” McKinney began. “I was in five different airports trying to get here. Not a complaint, but if I seem a bit discombobulated, please bear with me and understand,” she said. “I’m a child of the civil rights movement … sometimes [my father] held me on his shoulders when he picketed,” McKinney said. She then cited that “young people like you in addition to my personal experiences” had influenced her life. McKinney listed several of her influences, including President John F. Kennedy, 1960s freedom fighters and corporate whistle-blowers — “the average, ordinary people.” McKinney also named the late slain rapper, Tupac Shakur, as an “ordinary person who [did] extraordinary things.” The floor was then turned over to questions from the audience, although Kramnick appeared to ask the first one himself when he stated, “I guess you can start by explaining who Tupac is.” In responding to the first question posed, which was about her criticism of President George W. Bush and the situation in Iraq, McKinney stressed, “We are now in a situation where terribly important decisions are being made [and] these decisions are affecting your lives.” McKinney then took direct aim at U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, National Security Advisor. “I don’t like how [their] opinions … run exactly counter to the tenets of the civil rights movement and what America is supposed to stand for and instead [mimic] the establishment[‘s] policies,” she said. McKinney cited that Rice may not have read all footnotes on memorandums that crossed her desk, although when pressed by an audience member for clarification, only claimed that, “I don’t think she’s done a very good job anyway.” Speaking to the young audience, McKinney said, “If we don’t get involved now, and you don’t get involved now, just imagine what our country will be like just a few years from now … and the decisions that will be made. Who can you trust? Who can you count on? Can you be sure that our leadership is going to be there for you,” she asked rhetorically. “No,” she answered herself, “unless you become the leaders. It’s time for us to change.” McKinney then responded to the comment her father and former campaign manager, Billy McKinney, had made in 2002 following her electoral defeat. When asked for an explanation of the loss by a local reporter, the elder McKinney had responded that “Jews have bought everybody. Jews, J-e-w-s.” “My father did say that, but I’m sure that he absolutely regrets that,” McKinney said. “What he was trying to say is that the supporters of AIPAC [The American Israel Public Affairs Committee] made public the fact that they were targeting me,” she said. “A race, a campaign that was about my ability to deliver to a district become much broader and international in its implications. What started out as a normal, typical campaign became a statement.” McKinney then reiterated, “My father would admit that he was wrong … I am absolutely certain that that was not what my father would say if given the chance again.” Responding to a question posed to her about feminist influences, McKinney discussed attending state fairs in the South in which “even though [she] was in this area that was hostile towards a black woman being a congressional representative, women were not quite as hostile.” McKinney also then touched upon the recent controversy over remarks made by Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean to the Des Moines Register in which he told a reporter that he wanted to “be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.” “Howard Dean is right,” McKinney said. “I live with the confederate flag and the controversy. The Democratic party has to find a winning message in the South. And how do you find a democratic message
November 18, 2003
Last week, Prof. Kent Greenfield from Boston College Law School spoke at the Cornell University Law School about his organization, Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, and its current litigation against the United States Department of Defense for the latter’s refusal to abide by law schools’ on-campus recruitment regulations. FAIR Greenfield founded FAIR, an organization that is currently suing the Defense Department over the issue with the backing of fifteen law schools. The premise of FAIR’s lawsuit relies partly on the First Amendment and claims that the department is in violation of the Amendment. The FAIR lawsuit specifically challenges a piece of legislation known as the Solomon Amendment, which requires that law schools allow the Defense Department to recruit on campus, despite its “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” policy, which prevents the department from hiring openly gay individuals. As of right now, the department does not have to sign law schools’ non-discrimination policies, which is a prerequisite for all other on-campus recruiters. The Solomon Amendment stipulates that if a law school does not allow the military sufficient access to their facilities, all government funding is withdrawn from its parent university. For schools like Cornell, this would mean several million dollars in lost funds annually. Inconsistency “It is inconsistent with the First Amendment to condition government funds on the recipient’s agreement with the government,” Greenfield explained. “Just as you can’t give driver’s licenses only to people who agree to vote Republican or Democrat, you can’t condition [the receipt of] government benefits on your relinquishment of constitutional rights.” FAIR is challenging the Solomon Amendment on the basis that it does not give law schools the freedom to make their own rules and that it uses the power of the purse to force schools into compliance. Furthermore, Greenfield found himself and many of his students frustrated with the Solomon Amendment’s promotion of the “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t pursue” policy. “It’s as if the military is saying ‘We want you but only if you’re straight. Or, if you’re gay and willing to shut up about it,'” Greenfield said. The Law School is planning further activities to educate faculty and students about the lawsuit, and administrators are currently considering the possibility of joining FAIR. In making such a decision, the Law School administration must consult with the University Council, the President’s Office, and then with the Law School faculty. “Can the law school act unilaterally or does it need authorization from the University? I’m seeking to get those kinds of answers from the appropriate people at the University,” said Cornell Law School Interim Dean John A. Silicano ’75. “If it needs some sort of authorization, what’s the process for that, and will it be forthcoming? If [the Law School] does have the authorization to act unilaterally, what are the appropriate internal processes to determine whether we can join FAIR?” Furthermore, another mitigating factor that prevents the Law School from taking immediate action is the ongoing search for a permanent dean. “There are a number of issues that really represent fundamental choices that the school is going to make in terms of direction that have been appropriately left for after the resolution of the dean search,” Siliciano explained. Dean Siliciano attended Prof. Greenfield’s lecture and said that it provided him with further insight on the situation at hand. “I found it helpful because it revealed aspects of the situation that weren’t available to me before,” Siliciano said. One issue that was clarified was that joining FAIR would not be equivalent to joining the lawsuit. “[FAIR is] simply looking for law schools to join the organization; they’re not looking for law schools to join as named plaintiffs,” Silicano said. Cornell Law Prof. Steven H. Shiffrin, a renowned First Amendment scholar, was among the faculty members who also attended the lecture. “If the issue came before the Cornell faculty, I would be hopeful that the faculty would join [FAIR],” Shiffrin said. As an expert in the First Amendment, Shiffrin also commented on the legitimacy of the claims that the lawsuit makes. “I think that it’s a good case on the merits,” Shiffrin said. “It is very clear that you can’t condition benefits upon the abandonment of constitutional rights. Imagine this: you can speak in favor of the Republican Party, but if you do, we’ll take away your Social Security benefits, an obvious violation of the First Amendment.” Student organizations within the Law School have been advancing this issue for several months. The Cornell Law School chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, which works to promote progressive changes in law school policies, has joined forces with Lambda, the gay and lesbian student organization at Cornell Law, in order to convince students, faculty and administrators to take action regarding this issue. “We decided to join [together with Lambda] because we think this is an incredibly important issue from a civil rights perspective, the fact that what the military is doing is wrong, and also the fact that this really infringes on academic institutions,” said Jessica Polansky law, president of the Cornell Law chapter of the NLG. “We’re certainly looking for the administration to go forward with FAIR.” Currently, the NLG and Lambda are meeting with administrators and plan to confront faculty members directly about the issue. “It’s time to start banging down doors,” said Judy Amorosa law, social chair for Lambda. Still, members of Lambda and the NLG are encouraged that some progress has already been made in educating the faculty and students about this issue. “We feel like the administration is starting to make some progress in addressing the issue of military recruiting on campus,” said Matt Faiella law, president of Lambda. “Dean Siliciano wrote a letter to the law school community giving his view on the fact that this conflicts with his idea of a just society. The rest of the law school community now knows that this is an important issue. Now we do have some faculty members who are interested in the issue, and maybe they can bring it to a faculty meeting and talk about it intelligently.” NLG and Lambda members are hopeful that the Law School will consider joining FAIR. “What’s so encouraging about this is that the Law School doesn’t necessarily have to take this huge stance that puts them out on a limb. [Joining FAIR would mean] saying that they’re joining an association, and part of what this association is doing is suing the government,” Polansky said. Archived article by Andrew Beckwith