News | Academics

Goldman Sachs CEO cancels lecture at Barnard

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein has canceled a speech he planned to give at Barnard on Oct. 12, though officials said he plans to reschedule.

Barnard’s events website cited travel issues, with a message explaining that Blankfein “must be in Washington D.C. that evening and will be unable to deliver his lecture as planned.” But his absence also allows him to avoid protests that had been planned to coincide with his speech.

In response to Blankfein’s invite, Columbia students had organized “School the Squid” week—referring to writer Matt Taibbi calling Goldman Sachs “a great vampire squid”—including a series of discussions and film screenings focused on corporate greed and abuse of power.

Yoni Golijov, CC ’12 and an organizer of “School the Squid” week, said the Columbia University Activists would have protested if Blankfein spoke on campus.

“CU Activists were planning a teach-in outside the Barnard gates to explain why he is not a responsible citizen nor a role model,” Golijov said in an email, adding that some faculty and at least one other another group had been planning independent protests.

Now, CU Activists will be holding a celebratory gathering outside the Barnard gates on Wednesday.

Blankfein is one of the highest-paid executives on Wall Street, and critics have used him as a figure of corporate greed and irresponsible practices in the financial sector. Others have praised him for keeping the investment banking and securities firm intact, and even profitable, through the economic crisis.

In June, Barnard President Debora Spar was elected to Goldman Sachs’ board of directors.

Blankfein’s speech, scheduled as part of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies Power Talks series, would have come at an awkward time. Thousands of young people—including some Barnard students—have been participating in Occupy Wall Street demonstrations over the last four weeks to protest the financial sector’s role in the economic crisis.

“While debt and unemployment rise across America, Barnard College expects us to celebrate Blankfein as a model of ‘leadership’ and ‘excellence’?” read an email advertising the protest.

Kathryn Kolbert, director of the Athena Center, said that Blankfein was invited among leaders from all segments of society. She said he had not yet given the center another date, but was planning to return.

“We are booked this fall, and for the most part, these things take a while to reschedule,” she said.

news@columbiaspectator.com

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Anonymous posted on

He clearly cancelled due to occupy Wall Street.

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Anonymous posted on

Yoni: why is being a responsible citizen or a role model a requisite for someone to speak? In fact, isn't it precisely those who *aren't* responsible citizens, and otherwise unaccountable to the public, that need to be challenged and heard? Why stifle the debate?

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Anonymous posted on

the fact is, he isn't a role model.  Not that they don't want him to speak, just that given the theme of the talk, he was not the right guy to do it.

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Anonymous posted on

Hey Andrew, you're definitely right, the point of the talk however was for him to speak as a role model and leader invited by the Barnard "Athena Leadership" institute, he was being invited to speak as an example of what we can hope to be/do when we grow up.

If he had been invited to come speak about the financial crisis and for us to ask questions and put an otherwise unaccountable man in the spotlight and maybe even get some answers (hint, it probably has to do with money) then we wouldn't have objected we would have gladly taken part in grilling the squid! (with questions of course)

However we were organizing a teach-in outside the gates to call to question why he would be invited as a role model, and thankfully, people are questioning!

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Anonymous posted on

Why does it matter how the talk was promoted or billed? How many chances are we going to get to question this guy?

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Anonymous posted on

Since the Leadership Center was charging $20 to hear the talk, I'm not sure he was going to be questioned.

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Eddie York posted on

Lloyd Blankfein was the first person Tim Geithner contacted the week that the Wall Street collapse occurred in 2008.

Lloyd is Satan in a Keebler Elf disguise.  Lloyd, John Thain, Dick Fuld and Ken Lewis are all enroute to the real Hell after they all depart from their self-made Hell on Earth.

Obama appointed 14 Wall Street Employees as members of his staff in 2009.

Five of the Employees are former Goldman Sachs Executives.

It should not be any wonder why the Obama Administration has dragged it's feet the past 2.5 years concerning the accountability of the those responsible for causing the Wall Street collapse.

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Anonymous posted on

People who protest at these figures should not be allowed to attend campus recruiting events from these firms.

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Anonymous posted on

Why. Are we supposed to shut up or put up?

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Anonymous posted on

If you're protesting these firms stand for, you shouldn't be working for them. Easy as that.

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Anonymous posted on

How is the culture of these firms (some of which, including Goldman, have tacitly admitted wrongdoing by quietly  settling out of court in suits brought against them) ever going to change if people who think differently don't go to work there?  That's like saying no one who has ever attended a political demonstration should be allowed to run for office.

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Anonymous posted on

"Others have praised him for keeping the investment banking and securities firm intact, and even profitable, through the economic crisis."

But that's precisely the problem: The whole machinery that produced the crisis was bailed out and left unscathed, while the people who lost their homes were left to rot...

On the other hand, I think it would have been a good idea to let him talk, and question him after that. It is important to know all points of view, even if we disagree. That's what you are supposed to do in a university. It's most unfortunate when a possible dialogue is cancelled.

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Anonymous posted on

He will be allowed to talk, don't worry.  It's not like he was banned!  He himself cancelled.  And he will probably be back, given that Spar is on the board and Blankfein's wife is a Barnard alumna.

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Anonymous posted on

Regardless of what one thinks of the guy, it's a win to have someone so busy agree to come speak and be questioned, especially when they're not getting much out of it (financially, etc). Do you really think someone would agree to speak somewhere if they were billed in a negative way? Which brings me back to my point: why does it matter how it was billed? I think these protesters are missing the fundamental point of college, and American public life in general, which is that open discourse is vital and opposing views need to be heard.

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Anonymous posted on

Heyall! I think youre all raising good points! Do you want to meet up and talk about it? Would you like to talk about it in a general assembly? We'll be having one this Friday at 4pm at the Sundial and would love to talk about education, our role as students, dialogue, etc., and will be a great place for discussion! Thanks!

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JEHR posted on

Man, I'm sorry to say that I laughed to see in my mind's eye Blankfein frightened to hear a few non-violent protesters.  He SHOULD share some of the fear that his bank has passed onto the citizens of the United States.  I hope he no longer enjoys his billions that he has fraudulently vacuumed up from the middle and working classes--all those pensions, savings and mortgages are now in his bank account and he should be in jail!

See:  http://www.goldmansachs666.com...

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Anonymous posted on

"Dear Mr. Blankfein, I am with Barnard College. We know you are very busy, but would like to cordially invite you to headline our new speaker series, 'Greedy Fraudsters as Negative Example: What Not To Be When You Grow Up.' We hope you will take the time to join us. Sincerely, [etc etc]

P.S. Our students are organizing a protest in advance of your arrival."

Invitations need to be flattering or they don't get accepted!

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Anonymous posted on

He should be fired and his money confiscated. Then he wouldn't be able to donate money to Obama, and Cbama would lose the election. It'd be better for the country that way!

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Anonymous posted on

The perverted morals of wall street are no longer acceptable by the people.

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