By Katie Schmitz
Kalamazoo College has hosted many guest speakers in the past who have been considered “controversial.” Just last quarter, many students were up in arms because Ben Shapiro, conservative political commentator, visited campus to discuss bullying by liberals.
In 1976, however, K hosted two guests that would likely make many current students’ skin crawl: the Romneys.
That’s right, George and Lenore Romney left little Mitt at home (actually, he was about 29 at the time and already married with two children), and came on over to visit K.
The couple spoke on different topics. Of George Romney’s talk, the May 1976 issue of the Index summarized: “In his recent visit to Kalamazoo, George Romney, former Michigan Governor, President of American Motors and Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, expressed his views on the issues currently afflicting this country—specifically, the economic situation, November’s presidential contest, and the problems affecting American cities.”
Mr. Romney also discussed his optimism concerning that decade’s economy, and shared his opinions on that year’s upcoming presidential election (in which Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford).
On the other hand, Lenore Romney, who lost a senate race six years prior, talked more about what it was like to be the wife of a political figure. The writer of the 1976 article observed: “Lenore Romney is a singularly aware woman; in the context of political wife, she is rather unique. She is a woman who knows her values and why it is best for her to hold them.”
Mrs. Romney also discussed women in general and their role in 1970’s society. “[She talked about women’s] prerogatives, their effectuality, their status—and she jumped to say that, unfortunately, what most women have been liberated from is their inherit sense of strength and dignity as females in society.”
The two articles posted in the Index following the Romney’s visit were more news-based. There was no reporting on how the Romney’s were received by K’s students, a majority of whom have always been liberal.
It is clear that the visit was controversial, because the editor stated: “The Romney’s visit was, by all accounts, controversial. The two articles presented here reflect only two impressions; we would welcome alternative responses.” No students submitted any more opinions to be published, however.