College retracts invitation to scheduled Commencement speaker

first_imgActivist and author Jean Kilbourne spoke out last week after Saint Mary’s rescinded her invitation to speak during the College’s 2017 Commencement ceremony. The College withdrew its offer once it became aware that Kilbourne had received the Hilda Crosby Standish Leadership Award from Planned Parenthood of Connecticut in 2005, Kara Kelly, special assistant to the president of Saint Mary’s, said in an email.According to Kelly, no contract had been signed before the decision to rescind the offer was made. The College has since continued with Commencement planning and will announce the speaker later this month.Kelly said the President’s Office accepts nominees for Commencement speakers. Those candidates are then reviewed by the Student Affairs Council and are approved by the Board of Trustees, which has the final say in the decision.“There is a difference in a department or student group inviting someone to speak on campus, versus inviting a Commencement speaker,” Kelly said. “Commencement speakers at Saint Mary’s also receive an honorary degree, the College’s highest honor, subject to approval from the Board of Trustees.”Kilbourne said she has spoken at over 50 Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada without her award ever presenting an issue.“I’ve spoken to Saint Mary’s in the past,” she said. “I’ve always had a wonderful time. I’ve spoken at Notre Dame.”Although the College extends an invitation to multiple speakers — as scheduling conflicts sometimes occur and a new speaker needs to be selected quickly — Kilbourne said she was not aware of this and thought she would be speaking, as she had accepted the initial offer.“That certainly wasn’t my understanding,” she said. “I received an offer, a contract was drawn up. It had not been signed, but it was in the works. In fact, I turned down another engagement for that day. … As far as I knew and understood, this was an offer for me to be the Commencement speaker, and it was then withdrawn for this reason.”Kilbourne said after her invitation was rescinded, she was told that an alumna or alumnae had found out about her award and put pressure on the College.“I’m sympathetic to the position that Saint Mary’s was put in,” she said. “I just feel like this was really too bad. It’s too bad it’s happening here, and it’s happening other places as well.”Kilbourne said she has no resentment toward the College, but rather is disappointed with the decision that was made.“It makes me sad, it makes me disappointed,” she said. “I really had some important things to say. I’m a graduate of Wellesley College — an all women’s college. I’m very supportive of women’s colleges, so I really had looked forward to speaking to the young women of Saint Mary’s. I was honored by the invitation, and I was looking forward to it.”Kilbourne said this situation is indicative of the times, as many campuses across the country have barred people from speaking because of political issues.“It’s very disturbing, the increasing divisiveness,” she said. “I’m a uniter, I’m not a divider. I really have always tried to bring people together on difficult issues. … This is happening from the left and the right, people being disinvited to campuses because they don’t meet certain tests. I think this is dangerous for education.”Kilbourne said she was not planning on speaking about Planned Parenthood, abortion or even reproductive rights in her speech.“I was going to speak about what I speak about, which is the influence of advertising on all of [us] and trying to help the young women, in particular, to resist the negative images of women in advertising.”Kelly said College departments and student groups go through a different process of bringing speakers to campus than the process used in selecting the Commencement speaker, due to the speaker’s additional honor of receiving an honorary degree at Commencement.“As an educational principle, Saint Mary’s encourages the free and vibrant exchange of ideas, and grants campus groups considerable freedom in determining the speakers who best contribute to a challenging and stimulating academic atmosphere,” Kelly said.Tags: Commencement 2017, Jean Kilbourne, Planned Parenthoodlast_img read more

February One of the Warmest on Record

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York Last month was the third-warmest February on record—a distinction that wouldn’t shock anyone who enjoyed Mother Nature’s much-appreciated spring tease over the last few weeks.The National Weather Service’s Upton office reported that February’s average monthly temperature was 37.8 degrees. The reading was .08 degrees cooler than the record established in 1998 and slightly below the second-warmest Februaries in 1984 and 2012. The weather service’s Islip record books date back to 1984. It was entirely possible for the month to claim the record books, given that February ended with a string of 11 days boasting average temperatures above freezing, including a pair hitting 65. On Tuesday, forecasters recorded a high of 58, the final day of the month. Alas, it was not warm enough to push February 2017 into the record books. In total, there were nine days that topped 50 degrees, including four that exceeded 60 degrees. The warm days outpaced the handful of days that averaged temperatures at or below freezing. Forecasters attributed the unseasonably warm climate to an “early spring-like pattern.” By comparison, this past February was 2.1 degrees warmer than last year and a remarkable 16.2 degrees higher than February 2015—the coldest February on record. Since Mother Nature has a cruel way of humbling us, those heartened by February’s warm embrace should not get too comfortable jut yet. While Wednesday will top off in the 60s, the upcoming forecast isn’t so inviting. On Thursday night, the mercury will drop into the 20s and make only a modest climb into the high 30s on Friday, which could see some light snow. Friday evening will be in the teens, and Saturday will be around freezing. In the meantime, you can set your countdown to spring, which is only 19 days away.Related: A Look Back at the Brutal Winter of 2015last_img read more