What Was the AACC Thinking?

April 7, 2014

Many community college leaders were angered -- and many walked out -- at Saturday's opening session of the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges when a comedian's performance offended them.

The performance, by an impersonator of President Clinton who was not introduced by name or identified in the program, featured jokes about Monica Lewinsky and digs at Hillary Clinton that many said were sexist and inappropriate at a time that she appears to be getting ready to run for president (and has consistently expressed support for community colleges and their mission).

Other attendees were most angered by a part of the skit in which the fake Bill Clinton discussed how political life changes people, showing images of George Washington at various stages in his life, ending with a photo he said was of Washington at his death, illustrating the dead president with a photo of Barbara Bush. Many presidents said that they weren't angry so much at the comic (who has apparently been doing his routine since jokes about the Clinton's use of White House bedrooms for donors reflected current events) but at the AACC itself.

Community college presidents, all seeking anonymity because they said they didn't want to offend association leaders, asked if the comic had been vetted, and why AACC leaders didn't say anything after a performance that visibly upset so many people. The fake Clinton followed a very well received speech by Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. A frequent comment heard at the meeting was that after Collins inspired them, the comic's performance degraded them.

A spokeswoman for the AACC, asked if the association planned to apologize or say anything, said that no statement was planned.

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