Colgate Shows Its Uglier Side At The Ed Koch Lecture



Kevin Glass

I attended the Ed Koch lecture on Thursday, September 9. To say that this lecture was controversial is an understatement. There were plenty of inflammatory statements made and I could hear lots of people shifting uncomfortably in their seats. To set the scene, during his introduction, Professor of Political Science Robert Kraynak bluntly described Mr. Koch as irritating. During his opening remarks, Mr. Koch said that it was quite probable that most people in the audience would not agree with most of the things that he had to say. He laid out the format for the question-and-answer, to take place after his speech and said that he was not going to try to debate the students. He would try to field questions and then answer them. Unfortunately, the acts of a few students during this question-and-answer section overrode the genuine interest in learning that the majority of the crowd had for this presentation. Questions were harsh, angry and intentionally provocative. For those of you who were not there, the first student-asked question degenerated quickly into a screaming match, at which point all I could do was put my head in my hands and wish I wasn’t there. The next few questions were filled with animosity and were not intended to further understand Mr. Koch’s positions but were trying to spark more arguments. I am not protecting Mr. Koch without reason. I found that he himself was quite confrontational in answering questions and sometimes even rude. He cut people off and seemed to try to spark controversy at every chance he got. This, perhaps, is to be expected with a Democrat who is voting for President George W. Bush in November.I do not feel responsible for the actions of Mr. Koch, but I do feel as though my reputation as a Colgate student was severely crippled by the actions of a few. To start with, we are college students. He is an 80-year-old former Mayor of New York City and Congressman. To get up and try to start a screaming match with this war hero and experienced politician is downright disrespectful, and hardly makes Colgate students seem like an intellectual group of students. We should be more respectful. Dean of the College Adam Weinberg is making a genuine effort to craft Colgate into a more intellectually diverse community – a community that fosters polite and intelligent discussion between people of different beliefs. We need to stop attending lectures of this sort looking for a fight. There were actually lots of very thought-out questions for Mr. Koch, and I was very pleased with the students asking these. Unfortunately, I am sure that Mr. Koch’s impression of Colgate students is that they are angry and irrational.Volume does not equal intellect. There are many ways to try and start an intelligent debate. Baiting Mr. Koch to start an argument is not one of them. How about going to the College Republicans or College Democrats and asking to have a civilized debate? How about writing an article in The Maroon-News?Bigger names and more important people than ever before have come to Colgate in the past few years. I have had the pleasure of seeing people like Ann Coulter, Jesse Jackson, and Alan Keyes in my short time here. There are always people, unfortunately, who go to lectures looking for a fight. We, as Colgate students – nay, as COLLEGE students – should be looking to further intellectual debate amongst our age group. We shouldn’t be trying to yell at respected 80-year old men.