July 13, 2008

Finding Your Voice on the Hill

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ILR Profs Clash Over Daily Show
On Jan. 7, Prof. Ron Seeber, industrial and labor relations, made the first appearance on The Daily Show with John Stewart since the Writers Guild of America strike began on Nov. 5.
Before Seeber — who is associate dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations — appeared on the show, many people in the ILR community urged him to cancel his appearance.
Ellen Stutzman ’04, a senior research analyst for the west coast branch of the WGA, sent out e-mails to current ILR students, alumni and faculty. She wrote, “We prefer that guests not go on these shows” out of respect for the writers’ rights, since the writers were still on strike at the time.
Despite Seeber’s support of the writers on air, Stutzman said, “I’m really disappointed that the Associate Dean crossed the picket line after many people asked him not to … It reflects really poorly on the school.”
Despite disagreeing with Seeber’s appearance, the members of the Cornell ILR Extension Labor Faculty acknowledged Seeber’s freedom to appear on the show to the WGA: “Cornell is an institution that values academic freedom, and Professor Seeber was exercising his when he chose to appear on The Daily Show.”

O’Connor and Huckabee Talk Politics
This year, Cornell has played host to several important speakers from all realms of life. Two of these speakers, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, spoke, and answered questions from members of the Cornell community about the current political system.
In October, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor spoke before a packed Bailey Hall on the importance of oral argument in the Supreme Court.
O’Connor was at Cornell for three days as a “Distinguished Jurist in Residence.” This position, according to Stewart Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law, is given to important lawyers once a year who come to campus “to interact with students and faculty in a variety of sittings.”
However, she said that she kept looking, and advised women to search until they “find something worth doing” rather than sitting around and “wringing their hands.”
She added, “If we’re not yet in a perfect world, we must keep working to improve it.”
In April, former 2008 Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee­­ gave a talk entitled “In God We Trust: The Role of Faith in Politics,” outlining his political and religious convictions, some of which have been the subject of heated debate among American voters.
In his hour-long speech, Huckabee described in detail his career path, one from priesthood to politics. Following his speech, the audience engaged in a 45-minute question-and-answer session in which inquisitors delved into polarizing social and political issues on the forefront of today’s social and political discourse. He addressed heated topics such as the right for college campuses to permit concealed carry of weapons, gay marriage and the sanctity of life.

Dalai Lama Speaks to Thousands in Ithaca
During Fall Break in October, a crowd of more than 5,000 gathered to hear His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama speak at Cornell.
His visit to Cornell, in which he delivered an address entitled, “A Human Approach to World Peace,” was part of a two-day series of speaking engagements called “Bridging Worlds.” The Dalai Lama came to bless Namgyal, Ithaca’s new monastery, which he has named “Du Khor Choe Ling,” or the Land of Kalachakra Study and Practice. His visit marks the second time he has come to Cornell; he previously visited in 1991.
The first part of the event was a half-hour long chant by eight Buddhist monks. Following the chants, President David Skorton introduced the Dalai Lama.
According to the Dalai Lama, his number one commitment as a human being is “the promotions of human value,” and his second commitment as a Buddhist is “the promotion of religious harmony” of people throughout the world.
His speech alternated between statements of inner peace and enlightenment and amusing witticisms that drew laughter from the audience.
After he concluded his remarks, Skorton asked the Dalai Lama three questions that were posted online by members of the community.
Following the question and answer section, the Dalai Lama placed a kata, a long thin white scarf, around Skorton’s neck.
Offering a person a kata is a Tibetan custom associated with greeting.
He also gave one to Prof. David Holmberg, anthropology, who delivered closing remarks, and to Susan Wardwell and Mareike Larson, the two sign language interpreters.