CLIFT VISITS CAMPUS
JADE DOTY ‘18 | CAVELIFE EDITOR • The #MeToo Movement, Trump’s unusual presidential election victory, careers in journalism, and the government shutdown are
the numerous topics that Eleanor Clift covered over the course of
this past week. Eleanor Clift is the former Newsweek White House Correspondent with over 40 years of experience in political journalism, covering presidencies since Jimmy Carter.
In addition to the numerous accolades that decorate Clift’s resumé, she can now add Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow to her list. Clift is the sixth Woodrow Wilson Fellow that Wabash has hosted in its history, the last fellow being General Mike Lenhart. The program is designed and run by The Council of Independent Colleges, which Wabash is a member of. Every couple of years, members of the Wabash Faculty and Staff is able to select a few potential Fellows to visit campus to generate lectures and talks that are aimed to benefit the “Ongoing Obituary,” but he was able direction, but that their values are
students on campus.
“Our goal is to find somebody that can talk to students from different departments,” Jeff Beck, User Services and Information Literacy Librarian, said. Thankfully, Journalist Eleanor Clift’s schedule fit well with Wabash’s and students were able to attend events focused on contemporary issues that Clift was knowledgeable of.
The first talk that Clift gave titled, “The Role Journalists Are Playing in the Scrutiny of Our Very Unorthodox President,” took place on Monday in Baxter 101. She approached the topic factually and tried to articulate the ways Trump’s actions are perceived by the media, the public, and how they affect his popularity among his fellow politicians. Additionally, Clift discussed the ways Trump was able to win the presidential election and his chances at re-election and possibly impeachment. Clift observed that Trump’s campaign was treated as an to win the race due to the way he “channelled the anger from parts of the U.S. population that felt cheated by the government financially and socially during Obama terms.” Clift concluded the discussion by stating that Trump’s current approval rating sits at 40 percent, but the Republican party still believes that he is their best chance at re-election due to his firm base of voters and his actions against ISIS.
In a private conversation, Clift gave her observations on how millennials perceived the past presidential election. “People in that age range looked at Donald Trump and looked at Hillary Clinton and didn’t particularly cared for either one and stayed home. After the election, the shock of Donald Trump’s victory woke up people across the political spectrum, but especially millennials,” Clift said. “If you look at the polling about millennials, they think the country is going in the wrong
in the right place. I believe that the conversations I’ve had on campus suggests that.”
Apart from Trump’s presidency, the #MeToo movement was the other large topic that Clift spoke of. On Tuesday night, Clift gave a talk about the movement and its relation to sexual harassment in politics. The talk was well attended, but not as well as the panel discussion on the same topic on Wednesday. The noon discussion was held in Baxter 101, and the room proved to be too small for the amount of Wabash students and faculty that wanted to hear the panelists views. Adriel Trott, Associate Professor of Philosophy, and Head Football Coach Don Morel accompanied Clift on the panel as Eric Freeze, Associate Professor of English, and Sabrina Thomas, BKT Assistant Professor of History, mediated the discussion.
Different from Clift’s original talk on the #MeToo Movement, the panel focused on what the movement should mean for the Wabash students. Trott focused on how Wabash students should perceive their interactions with women after graduation in her comments. “Women should not be viewed as objects of desire,” Trott said when articulating how Wabash students should understand the important factors coming out of the #MeToo movement.” “[Wabash students] should understand that the workplace is not a dating pool.” Morel agreed with Trott’s comments about the treatment of women. “#MeToo has gone too far and not far enough,” Morel said. Additionally, he quoted Peggy Noonan’s article, “America Needs More Gentleman,” and others when commenting about the way Wabash students carry themselves on campus and how they should after graduation.
Several students asked the panelists similar questions that circled around the way men need to act as supporters of the #MeToo movement during the event. “We can’t overturn traditions in one year of a movement,” Clift said. “People earn social rules from the environment they grow up in.” Hitting home that a change in the way sexual harassment is viewed and defined starts with the younger generation. Comments like this made Wabash students contemplate their role in the #MeToo movement and the future that they will lead, including Nick Winter ‘21, who commanded the room with his point on the caliber of men that attend Wabash College.
“I think it’s a good example of the things we’re able to do here at Wabash,” Winter said. “Events like this demonstrate how students can talk about big problems and big issues, and how we can face those problems and make this world a better place.”
Although Clift covered several contested and hot topics during
her visit to Wabash College, her lectures received great attendance from both the students and faculty on campus. These talks sparked conversations among students all across campus, giving the notion that Clift’s visit was a success. Just as the acclaimed journalist made an impact on the members of Wabash College, Wabash College made an impact on Clift. ““Coming to Wabash, I had stereotypes in my mind and they’ve been pleasantly shattered,” Clift said. Discussions and talks like the ones that occurred this past week creates anticipation for the
next Woodrow Wilson Fellow to visit Wabash’s campus.