Kristof is Coming

| Staff Columnist

Zoe Kessler | Student Life
We’ve heard Seth Meyers. We’ve heard Jonathan Safran Foer.

Now, we have a Pulitzer Prize winner with a conscience.

New York Times columnist and human rights activist Nicholas Kristof will be speaking today at 4 p.m. in Graham Chapel. The reporter, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for journalism, is an outspoken advocate for human rights. His talk will center on topics raised in his latest book, “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.”

Why should we care? Because Kristof knows the world outside the Wash. U. bubble. Because we are certainly a progressive, socially conscious campus, but we are just that: a campus. In order to understand the world beyond Brookings, we need to hear from someone who has been there.

Kristof’s first Pulitzer was awarded for his 1990 coverage of the Tiananmen Square movement in China, and his second for his commentary on Darfur in 2006. He continues to write weekly columns for the Sunday Times and writes a blog for the newspaper’s website called “On the Ground,” which includes Kristof’s perspective on his experiences throughout the world. He has blogged about places from Haiti to Zimbabwe to Tibet. He has criticized Americans for blindly condemning Muslims, and he has encouraged private companies to provide contraception for women in developing countries throughout the world.

Obviously a talented writer and reporter, Kristof’s real strength lies in his ability to bring attention to oppressed and marginalized people. With one of the world’s most well-respected newspapers as his platform, Kristof has devoted his career to give victims a voice.

In the spirit of sharing his message, Kristof holds an annual contest called “Win a Trip With Nick Kristof,” after which he grants a university student the opportunity to accompany him to Africa in order to see developing nations firsthand and blog about the experience. Sure, university students go abroad all the time, but to do so with the specific purpose of witnessing and exposing injustice is rare.

The privileges of college can often make distant suffering difficult to comprehend and easy to ignore. We deal with the outside world in theoretical terms: through equations, through literature, through theorems. We see global crises through goggles tinted by the security of our comfortable lives here. Distorted by the bubble.

So at 4 o’clock, take a break from homework, from studying, from living the college life. Take advantage of the outside world coming in, and hear from an activist who has truly been there and keeps going there.