Pataki invited to speak at Class Day

The senior class Class Day chairmen have invited New York Governor George Pataki ’67 to speak at Class Day on May 26, Senior Class Secretary Ravi Paidipaty ’02 confirmed yesterday.

Jodie Agers, a staff member in Pataki’s scheduling office, said the office had just received the request and had entered it into the computer Wednesday. Agers said invitations to the governor usually take about three weeks to process. Class Day chairmen Manish Vora ’02, Josh Stein ’02 and Claiborne Childs ’02 sent Pataki the invitation about a week ago, Paidipaty said.

Liz Oosterhuis ’02, the senior class treasurer, said the Class Day committee decided to contact Pataki based on a survey of the senior class, in which Pataki ranked as one of the top choices.

“Also, because of the events of Sept. 11, we thought he’d be a good choice,” Oosterhuis said.

Stein and Childs declined to comment on the invitation, and Vora did not return phone calls.

Virginia Boyd ’02, who is from New York City, said she would be happy to have Pataki address her class, provided he is an engaging speaker.

“I would maybe prefer to have someone different and a little more interesting, but maybe he has an interesting perspective, especially after Sept. 11,” Boyd said.

Cameron Hill ’02 said he thought Pataki is a “valid Class Day speaker,” but is not a particularly exciting choice.

“I would much rather hear somebody with a more intriguing life history than someone who happened to be governor during some important event,” Hill said. “I don’t really think the timeliness of the speaker has to be as big an issue as people think.”

Teddy Pataki, Pataki’s son, is currently a freshman in Timothy Dwight College. Teddy’s sister Emily Pataki graduated from Yale last year.

Pataki was first elected governor of New York on Nov. 8, 1994. In 1998, he defeated his opponent by over 1 million votes and was reelected by a 20 percent margin, the largest for a New York Republican governor in history.

Pataki’s political positions are a combination of traditionally liberal and conservative causes. Pataki supports environmentally responsible policies, but has lengthened prison terms and is in favor of the death penalty, according to his Web site. He has said he thinks social security must be safeguarded and is a proponent of helping elderly people pay for prescription drugs. He has cut personal, business and property taxes, and has said he believes in directing education dollars to the classroom.

“I believe in a government that expands personal freedoms and allows honest and responsible citizens to enjoy the benefits of their hard work,” Pataki says on his Web site. “I believe New York is a place where private enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit can thrive and prosper; where those who need a helping hand not only receive it, but are permitted to lift themselves to a better life.”

Annie Lux ’02 said she thinks Pataki’s connection to Sept. 11 as New York’s governor makes him an interesting possibility for Class Day speaker, but said she thinks former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani would be a better choice if relevance to Sept. 11 were the driving force behind the choice.

“I think people would rather hear Giuliani,” Lux said.

Paidipaty said the Class Day committee approaches each Class Day speaker one at a time and that the committee will wait to hear whether Pataki will accept before contacting another potential guest.

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