The man responsible for investigating the nature of President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, which eventually led to his 1998 impeachment, is slated to speak on campus today at 4 p.m.
Formerly an independent counsel, a position that entails broad administrative investigative powers, Kenneth W. Starr now serves as the dean of Pepperdine University’s School of Law. Starr’s presentation will be free. Topics covered, according to organizers, will include the importance of integrity, ethics and law. The event, which is sponsored by CSUN’s student-led Business Law Association, is open to the public.
“Some people I assume will come because of the element of controversy,” said Christopher Bay, senior and president of the Business Law Association. “It will be interesting to see what he’s like, knowing his past,” he said.
In the past, Democrats and Republicans alike admired him. It was Starr’s moderately conservative stance paired with broad views of the freedom of the press that often brought his name up as a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
Prior to Starr’s investigation of former President Bill Clinton and the sudden – albeit controversial – surge in name recognition that came with it, he led a well-respected career as a lawyer and judge. Perhaps Starr’s most prestigious post was a five-year stint starting in 1983 as a federal judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. He then went on to serve as U.S. Solicitor General from 1989 until 1993 under President George H.W. Bush.
And despite CSUN’s perceived reputation as a (left-leaning) university with partisan biases, Bay said Starr is still eager to speak. After the speech, refreshments will follow a question and answer format. Students are encouraged to engage Starr with any topics that interest them.
Yet memories associated with Starr’s now infamous “Starr Report” provoke a sense of negativity from some CSUN students and faculty.
Student David Lopez said while Starr’s speech might bring recognition to CSUN, he still has a hard time getting past Starr’s investigative logic.
“The only person affected by (the scandal) was Clinton,” he said. “Other presidents have done worst things ? like invading foreign countries on false pretenses.”
As a 27-year-old political science undergraduate, Lopez hopes to attend law school upon graduation. He said he gets good law school advice from working as an intern, with access to the judges and court personnel, at the San Fernando Courthouse. But Lopez will not be attending Pepperdine’s School of Law, nor will he be in attendance this afternoon.
A religious studies faculty member also spoke critically of Starr.
“He’s vicious. I disagree 100 percent with his politics and the methodology he used when he had power,” she said, citing Starr’s memorable stint on the independent council.
Despite her disagreement with Starr’s ethics, she said he is still “surprisingly articulate,” and that she had heard him speak before – against her will – at a past Pepperdine function. But one speech was enough, and she to will not be attending today’s appearance by Starr.
Political science and Chicano/a studies major Randy Rodriguez was young when Kenneth Starr became a household name.
“I can’t say I don’t like him,” said the 20-year-old Rodriguez. “He probably was just doing his job.” Rodriguez said that while Starr does not concern him too much, he does question the political motive behind the eight-year-old scandal.
“It was Bill’s life. Why couldn’t he have just left him alone?” he asked.
All students interested in law or politics, no matter their political views, are encouraged to participate in tomorrow’s event.
“It could be a foot in the door for people interested in law school,” Bay said.
To catch Starr’s speech, visit the Shoshone Room of CSUN’s Satellite Student Union near the northeast corner of the campus.