President Clinton Challenges Young People to Address Inequality

June 12, 2007

President Bill ClintonIn a speech at Saint Anselm College on Monday evening, Former President Bill Clinton urged young people to address inequality by volunteering in their communities and embracing what they share in common. He spoke to more than 1,000 full-time volunteers assembled at the college for City Year’s week-long annual convention, Cyzygy 2007.

Clinton said politics needs to catch up so it can address a world that’s unequal, unstable, and unsustainable. The former president contributed some of the root causes of global inequality on stagnating wages and limited access to healthcare and instability on terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. He added that the world is also on an unsustainable path with rising global temperatures and a decline in the availability of oil within the next 100 years.

On conflicts across the globe, including the genocide in Rwanda, war in Sri Lanka, and conflicts in the Middle East, Clinton stated, “the people participating in these conflicts… have decided that their differences are more important than their common humanity.” Focusing on those differences, he said, is why disagreements about oil resources or religious beliefs boil over into armed, sometimes even genocidal conflict.

Clinton spoke in Sullivan Arena, which the previous week played host to both Republican and Democratic presidential hopefuls for the CNN Debates, including his wife, N.Y. Senator Hillary Clinton. A fact Clinton acknowledge in his opening remarks.

“I got a big kick out of seeing Saint Anselm splattered all over the world last week. We had the Democratic Debate here and the Republican Debate here. Now we have a guy speaking that can’t run for president anymore.”

To hear a podcast of President Bill Clinton’s speech, click on the audio file included with this post.

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7 Responses to “President Clinton Challenges Young People to Address Inequality”

  1. Bobby on June 13th, 2007 11:01 pm

    Yep, not a surprise Clinton is on the front page of Saint Anselm. This school continues to lose its Catholic identity more and more and more. Next, they will be openly advocating the Democratic platform. May seem like a shock now, and sure, the school would deny it, but we’ve seen the president of the college deny the obvious in the past before like co-ed dorms, the most recent success in bringing down the Catholic identity. Good thing the Founders of the school aren’t here to see this taking place.

  2. Bill on June 14th, 2007 11:33 am

    Response to Bobby,

    Unfortunately you have missed what Saint Anselm is about.

    This Catholic identity you claim the college is losing goes well beyond hosting an important American figure with different political views than the institution, or co-ed residence halls. IT is their Catholic identity that recognizes these differences and embraces them, providing the community with opportunities to learn from others and provide insight. I may be rusty, but if I remember correctly the Founders of this College firmly believed in the rules of Saint Benedict. In these rules, the Founders were guided to treat all who enter or “knock on their door” as if they were Christ, regardless of voting lines or political parties.

    Secondly and maybe more importantly Saint Anselm College is steeped in the liberal arts tradition. Saint A’s challenges students to, “free themselves from the strictures of ignorance, illiteracy, and indecision and to dedicate themselves to an active and enthusiastic pursuit of truth.” Inviting and embraces differences, in Clinton’s case, political difference, will only enlighten the community to seek the truth and find answers.

    Lastly, HOW is having a former President of the United States, Republican or Democrat, on campus a negative experience for a Catholic college community? I do not follow your logic. It seems, your idea of Saint Anselm College’s philosophy, history, and their ever enduring Catholic identity is narrow and lacks insight.

  3. Christopher Poulios on June 16th, 2007 2:12 pm

    Bobby and Bill,

    I can actually agree with Bobby on one issue, while I respectfully disagree with him on another. There is really nothing inconsistent about the college having Clinton speak on campus, nor having the Democrats debate here. Remember, the Republicans also had their debate just a couple of days afterward. Saint Anselm IS an American college within the boundaries of the United States, and having persons speak here from various ideological persuasions does not necessarily mean an endorsement of what they espouse. If I remember correctly, evangelical Protestants have also spoken here in the past, so the college has hosted persons from both extremes of the ideological circle. Institutions of higher learning simply promote mutual discourse and dialogue, and that is what higher education is all about. Moreover, the college has since made it a policy not to award honorary degrees at Commencement to persons who are openly pro-abortion, so that is another indication of its continuing strong Catholicity. With that said, however, I DO agree with Bob about the coed residence halls, something to which Bill neglects to respond. True, if students want to engage in intimate activities, they will always find a place to do them. But let them find an off campus apartment or motel, as the college need not be encouraging such actions by way of coed residence halls.

  4. Noelchabanel on June 17th, 2007 4:43 pm

    I am still just a lowly student, but I feel the need to chime in here. I am amazed that after all the publicity regarding co-ed dorms no one seems to have offerered any clarification about what is really being proposed. The “co-ed” dorms as proposed will be “coed” only in the sense that they share a roof. The floors will be separated by sex, and will have separate security locks. The college is not exactly rolling out the welcome wagon for “intimate relations.” This is similar to the system of sex-separate dorms used at St. Thomas More, which doesn’t have enough students to have lots of dormitory buildings. No one is questioning their Catholic identity–nor should they. In addition, If I am not mistaken, they include the dorms traditionally used for wellness (alcohol-free) housing, Brady, Building M, and I am not sure what the third one is.

  5. Jeff Labanara '06 on June 18th, 2007 12:27 am


    This is not about Republican or Democrat, Red or Blue. I have to agree with Christopher; having one of the most recognizable faces in the world appear on campus can hardly be a bad thing. It is not the job of the college to enforce partisanship on ALL fronts, but it is their job to allow the opinions from both ends of the for the sake of education. And isn’t that what it’s all about?

    The funny thing is, nothing President Clinton said was the least bit controversial. There is a genocide going on in Rwanda, war in Sri Lanka and the Middle East. Global temperatures have spiked and our oil supplies are evaporating quickly. All facts.

    Now for the dorms… Let us not forget that even before the dorms were desegregated, inter-visitation was only enforced at night (at least during my 4 years). Believe it or not, people do have “relations” while the sun is out.

  6. Joe on June 18th, 2007 2:15 pm

    I am glad students understand this guys ignorance. His point that if you have Democratic speakers at your school then the institution can not be Catholic is ludicrous. Mike Huckabee (a Republican) has been on campus 3 times already this year. If we had a post when every Republican rolled through campus it would be very long.

    The president of the college has helped Saint Anselm College greatly. A president who is around for student events and is always there to meet with them has preserved the aura that Saint Anselm College has always had. Due to this, I think the founders would give him a standing Ovation for his time here. I am glad I am given the opportunity to listen to both sides of issue and decide for myself where I stand because this is truly what higher education is all about.

  7. Ray on June 20th, 2007 10:28 am

    If Saint Anselm is to continue with its excellence as an institute for politics in New Hampshire, it should definitely accomodate major political figures in the ways it has, including Mr. Clinton’s visit. City Year is more than marginally consistent with the Catholic mission of public service, outreach, and compassion. Moreover, I find it odd that Bob would equate Catholicism with Republicanism, given the fact that many Democrats are Catholic, and many Catholic movements have their roots in social volunteerism and activism.

    On the issue of co-ed dorms, I think it is a fine idea, and as a student has articulated in this forum, dorms are co-ed only in the most rudimentary form of the word. Moreover, the assumption that co-ed dorms will lead to more “intimate” exchanges between students demonstrates a certain naive understanding of college life as well as a rather condescending view concerning the self-control of these young adults.