What UNT Learned When Condoleezza Rice (and Some Protestors) Came to Campus
Flanked by three University of North Texas police officers, Condoleezza Rice was escorted to the stage last night at UNT's Coliseum for another installment of the school's Distinguished Lecture Series, decked in a beige knee-length skirt and matching jacket. She started the only way she could: with a moment of silence for the victims and families affected by the recent bombings in Boston.
But while she did address the week's big story -- "I read the newspaper and then I set about to do whatever it is I was going to do because I am no longer responsible for what's in the paper" -- her talk focused elsewhere. Here are the five big takeaways:
1. Educate Yourself
Rice said the greatest threat to American security today is the crisis in K-12 education: "It doesn't matter where you come from; it matters where you're going. But can we honestly say that it doesn't matter where you came from when a zip code defines what kind of education a child gets?"
2. Stop Being So Narcissistic
Resolve to study abroad, Rice encouraged the students in the audience, and learn another language. Get to know other cultures and endeavor to help those who have less than you do.
"I guarantee you will stop asking questions like 'why don't I have' or 'why don't they give me' when you volunteer to spend time with those facing much harder circumstances," Rice said.
She shared a story of a Russian friend who once told her that Americans are the most individualistic people on the face of the earth. But, she said, "We are also the most humanitarian and the most philanthropic." There is no other nation in the world that mobilizes the way America does in the face of crisis situations, Rice said. It's the great American creed: Every life is worthy.
3. Stay Away from People Who Only Serve to Boost Your Ego
Rice urged the audience to surround themselves with people who have different perspectives, because they will teach you how to be strong in your own beliefs. "If people are saying 'Amen' to everything you say, find other company. Seek out new friends and different opinions." It's best, she said, to keep your circles small and appreciate the truth tellers who aren't afraid to tell you when you're wrong.
4. Let Them Yell Till They're Tired
As Rice made mention of her closing remarks, several students around the Coliseum stood up in protest and began to chant, "No blood for oil!" Three students in the floor section, positioned close to the stage, stood on their chairs holding banners conveying the same message.
"You're at a university, and at a university we listen to different views," Rice said in response to the hecklers. The crowd stood and applauded her quick wit. As the deep, strong voice of a young woman bellowed through the place, Rice continued unaffected: "Let her talk, she'll tire eventually."
5. Don't Let What You Look Like Naked Get in the Way of Your Future
Rice spoke about her opinion on being a triple threat: She's republican. She's female. She's black. She said it does not bother her to be the unexpected.
"If I walk into a room and you think that you know what I'm thinking because of the color of my skin, then you are prejudice," she said. Respect diversity in every pocket of your life, she said, because without it none of us are unique."Find your passion and don't let anyone stake it out for you because of the way you look."