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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Madeleine Albright visits Guilford

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. (Brita Helgesen)
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. (Brita Helgesen)

It appeared to be a good old Guilford protest. About 30 students were sitting in front of Dana Auditorium on Thursday, Nov.1. This was no protest, though, but the general admission line optimistically waiting to hear this year’s first Bryan Distinguished Visiting Professor, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Korbel Albright. Albright’s lecture was the latest in the “Human Rights: Global and Cross-cultural Perspectives” series, which will feature consumer activist Ralph Nader and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Oscar Arias later this year.

Hours before Albright’s lecture began, people in general admission were already restless. The line of ticket holders stretched continuously from the steps of Dana all the way to the center intersection of campus.

By about 7:00 p.m., the stagnant general admission line reached almost all of the way to Friendly Ave. Even those near the front of the line began to look longingly at the whirlwind of walky-talky-toting officials, starting to accept the fact that they would probably be forced to watch the speech on one of the closed-circuit televisions set up in the Moon room and in the choir room.

Eventually, a lucky few from general admission were let in. They charged the steps of Dana like kids at a Skid Row concert trying to get down front. Hundreds of hopefuls, unfortunately, had to be turned away.

Eventually, everyone settled in and the former Secretary of State appeared. She was accompanied by President Don McNemar, Mayor and Guilford graduate Keith Holliday, and junior Crystal Waitekus. McNemar exuberantly welcomed everyone to the event. Holliday also made some welcoming remarks.

Waitekus received rousing applause from the students as she gave a brief biography of Albright and welcomed her to the podium.

After a round of applause that only grew louder as the tiny woman urged the crowd to sit, Albright showed that she had done her homework about Guilford and its Quaker traditions. She also engaged the crowd with a well-received joke about Jesse Helms.

“How do we separate right from wrong amidst the turbulence?” stated Albright in regards to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. She then began to speak of the need for proportionate war and the need to keep civilian casualties down.

Later, she spoke about the necessity of U.S involvement in Bosnia and even that our lack of involvement in Rwanda, a major point of criticism of the Clinton administration, was a mistake. “I thought that ourlack of involvement in Rwanda was terrible,” she said.

“We are a reluctant policeman,” Albright said of American involvement in so many nations around the world. She said that it is our duty to uphold human rights because we are in a position of such power.

The crowd clapped so frequently during her speech that it started to become almost awkward.

Not everyone was so thrilled with Albright, however. A few students walked out after Albright’s comments regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict and her support of Israel.

Other students felt that she avoided this issue somewhat. “I wanted her to get into more specifics regarding the Middle East peace process,” said senior Jared Axelrod.

Albright also met with groups of students on Thursday afternoon for discussions.

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