Not many people have had the opportunity to see President Barack Obama speak firsthand, but on Thursday night in Gaston Hall, Georgetown was fortunate enough to experience the next best thing: listening to Obama’s former director of speechwriting, Jon Favreau. This event, co-sponsored by the Georgetown University Lecture Fund and the GU College Democrats, gave students exceptional insight into the life of our nation’s President—as well as the incredible man behind the scenes.
Candid and poised, yet humble, it is easy to see why Favreau was successful in claiming the prestigious position of the White House speechwriter. Having previously worked on Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, he moved his way up the ranks from lowly intern to deputy director of speechwriting until the election was lost. He was subsequently offered a job writing for then-Senator Obama that next year. When discussing the conclusion of his interview process, Favreau joked that Obama admitted: ” ‘I still don’t think I need a speechwriter, but you seem nice enough’ “. At the age of twenty-three, Favreau was on his way to becoming one of the youngest speechwriters in presidential history.
Shortly after President Obama’s presented his speech on climate change at Georgetown, Laura Anderko, a Georgetown professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies, was also invited by the White House to share her perspective and counsel with senior officials on protecting public health during a period of climate change (her feedback on the speech is shown in the video above).
Additionally, Dr. Anderko, who attained her Ph.D in public health and specializes in environmental health from the University of Illinois, was honored in a ceremony today as a White House Champion of Change for her leadership in spreading awareness about climate-related health issues and her advocacy of policy changes that will help combat these issues.
Dr. Anderko, who holds the Robert and Kathleen Scanlon Endowed Chair in Values Based Health Care at Georgetown’s nursing school, is well known and respected around the nation for her work in environmental changes and health effects. She has conducted significant research, which has been published widely, and been interviewed regularly about the effects of climate change on human health.
Update, 6:58 am: Vox received two documents via email from the White House Office of the Press Secretary. One is a fact sheet—a rundown of the essential points of the President’s plan to tackle climate change, and the other is a fully detailed outline of the plan. Both are available below.
Original Post: This afternoon, President Barack Obama will speak at Old North about how he wants to undo the damage that America has done to the environment in those last two hundred years.
Senior Administration officials spoke yesterday afternoon on a press call about how President Obama would present “his vision for an all of the above approach to develop homegrown energy and study responsible steps to cut carbon pollution so we protect the health of our children, move our economy toward American made, clean energy sources that will create good jobs and lower home energy bills and to slow the effects of climate change.”
The American public can expect Obama (pictured at left, speaking at Georgetown in March 2011) to not only highlight his success in reducing last year’s U.S. carbon pollution from the energy sector to the “lowest level in nearly two decades”, but also to promote new policies that the Administration expects will promote job growth and reduce carbon emissions, according to the press call. The Administration officials also noted that Obama will express a particular sense of urgency for the problem of climate change. They said, “Last year was the warmest year ever in the contiguous United States and about one-third of all Americans experienced ten days of more than 100 degree heat. The 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15 years.”
President Barack Obama has announced that he will present a new plan to tackle climate change this coming Tuesday at Georgetown. He will deliver the address at 1:35 p.m in front of Old North, a building that has received 13 of the 44 presidents of the United States, according to the University website.
The President has spoken at Georgetown twice before, addressing energy security on March 30, 2o11. In that speech, he called for further research in the field of alternative energy sources, and that the U.S. might cut oil imports by a third by 2020.
According to a video released by the White House, Obama plans to discuss “a national plan to reduce carbon pollution, prepare our country for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it.” He stressed the importance of a unified country to “help preserve God’s creation for future generations. There was no comment on specific policy, although as reported by Reuters, White House energy and climate change advisor Heather Zichal said, “In the near term, we are very much focused on the power plant piece of the equation.”
On July 1, federal Stafford loan interest rates will double from 3.4 to 6.8 percent, unless Congress acts before then to change the deadline. GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Vice President Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) have worked on urging Congress to extend this deadline. After attending President Obama’s speech (pictured at left) and calling on Congress to stop the loan rate hike, the GUSA executive has started a broad effort to petition Congress to stop the federal student loan interest rates from doubling at the start of July.
Tisa believes that higher student loan interest rates will not only put a greater financial burden on students but will compromise diversity at Georgetown, which was a key focus of his GUSA campaign last spring.
“[The loan rate hike] affects students who have the most financial need. It plays into the socioeconomic diversity of college campuses,” Tisa said. “I think, a lot of times at Georgetown, people forget that there are a lot of hidden costs to college, and going to college is not a given or something that’s easy for many students.”
President John DeGioia has also chimed in about the dangers of the loan rate hike. ”This is not the time to create additional barriers to pursuing higher education,” DeGioia said on American University Radio on Sunday. “We have a responsibility to protect our young. We also have a responsibility to ensure they have every opportunity to thrive, to realize the American dream.”
For inspiration on how to tackle the issue, Tisa looked back at the “Do We Have a Deal Yet?” campaign of 2011-2012 GUSA President Mike Meaney (SFS ’12), which similarly gathered the signatures of student body presidents from around the country and petitioned Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
Better than a cup of coffee, the Morning Digest will provide you with what you need to be prepared for the day: a daily round-up of links, local news, and important events on campus and around D.C.
Today will be humid with a chance of showers, with a high of 64.
To masticate today:
Hit the books: Tonight, OCAF will be hosting the Hoya Saxa Study Slam at Sellinger Lounge at 11 p.m. There will be free pizza and candy. There will also be coffee to remind you that you still need to study, and that this isn’t a middle school sleepover.
The Postal Service: Georgetown students can now use PostYourBook to buy and sell textbooks to each other. It is a free service where you post the textbooks you still own from past classes, and you can contact students who have the books you want. This will hopefully help cut down your costs, although Vox is definitely going to miss scouring Facebook GAAP groups for textbooks.
What to look out for:
Drink up: It’s National Drinking Water Week! This week of hearty celebration serves to remind us of the “essential role drinking water plays in our daily lives.” There are going to be various school events and festivals to increase awareness about the importance of water conservation and recycling.
Buck up: In another reminder that D.C. is neither a swing nor a state, President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at The Ohio State University last night. He spoke at length about the unique qualities of American citizenship, and took the opportunity to slip in a few jabs at Wall Street and Congress—all in all, a rollicking good time. Watch it in full here.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were reelected on Tuesday night, and hundreds of Hoyas ran to the White House to express their support. Both Leavey’s Sellinger Lounge and The Tombs were packed with Georgetown students watching the election count on CNN, cheering for Obama as he won state after state.
Students gathered at the front gates around midnight to run to the White House in large batches.
“Running to the White House for me was a way of celebrating a hard fought victory, acknowledging the opportunity we have as a democracy to fairly chose our leaders, and envision an improved America,” Mauricio Serna (SFS ’13) wrote in an email to Vox. “It was also a way of participating in what makes Georgetown such as a special place. Hundreds of Hoyas ran in groups, with buses, cabs and other drivers honking as we ran while chanting ‘four more years.’ At the White House, it felt as if half our campus was there, and chants of Hoya Saxa also broke out.”
Serna ran with a group of 10 students who started out watching the election at The Tombs.
Tuesday evening, almost 75 to 100 Georgetown students stood in line at Duke Ellington High School to engage in same-day registration. Ballots were shoved into an inconspicuous cardboard box, with lines circling around the high school hallways until 9 p.m. Not expecting so many students to show up for same-day registration, the voting personel were not equipped with enough same-day special ballots, further delaying the process. Students waited close to four hours before they were able to vote.
Ever wondered who the man was behind the pensive, chess-playing statue in front of White Gravenor?
Yesterday, President Barack Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to this war hero, the late Jan Karski, a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter who later became a professor at Georgetown University. The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. Karski died in 2000 and spent 40 years as a Georgetown professor.
During the early 1940s, Karski reported to the Polish government-in-exile, the American, and British allies on the atrocities committed in German-occupied Poland. ”Jan took that information to President Franklin Roosevelt, it being one of the first accounts of the Holocaust, imploring the world to take action. It was decades before Jan was ready to tell his story, and by then he said, ‘I don’t need courage anymore, so I teach with passion,’” Obama said during the awards ceremony.
Karski was a part of ZWZ, Union of Armed Struggle, which was an underground army formed in Poland to resist German occupation. ”When Karski told Jewish Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter what was happening, Frankfurter replied, ‘I do not believe you.’ Winston Churchill refused to meet with Karski to discuss saving the Jews. Had the allies acted when Karski spoke up, millions could have been saved,” the Huffington Postwrites about Karski.
Yesterday evening, The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University hosted the annual Let Freedom Ring Celebration, a musical celebration commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s concert featured a special performance by Grammy-winning vocalist Bobby McFerrin. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama also attended.
Toddchelle Young (COL ’12) delivered the invocation and included prayers for peace in Syria, for survivors of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, “all those affected by natural disasters in 2011,” and for the presidential candidates running in the 2012 election.
Clarence Jones was presented the John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award by University president John J. DeGioia and former Men’s Basketball Head Coach John Thompson, Jr. This award is given to an individual or organization whose contributions to community service or social justice reflect the values and ideals of Dr. King. Jones was a speech writer and advisor to Dr. King, and was instrumental in distributing his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. He is currently a Scholar-Writer in residence and a Visiting Professor at Stanford University.
Most famous for his hit, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” McFerrin’s performance was very interactive. McFerrin performs a cappella with his four octave range, and at the Kennedy Center he invited the audience as a whole to participate in the performance (to understand his style, you can watch this video of him). McFerrin closed his set with an innovative rendition of The Beatles’ “Black Bird”.