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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

When I applied for law firm jobs, Columbia had an excellent placement office, but sign up sheets would go up and many would say, "Men only." I had, as I have sometimes explained, three strikes that put me out when it came to employment as a lawyer. One is I am Jewish, and the law firms were just beginning to stop discriminating on the basis of religion. That affected Catholics as well as Jews. They were opening up to all people without regard to religion. And some, a precious few, were ready to try a woman, but none were willing to take a chance on a mother, and my daughter was four years old when I graduated from law school. So of course I was disappointed, but it wasn't unexpected.
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I had a great deal of support from my faculty colleagues. None of them were resentful. Most of them were so secure about themselves and the excellence of the Columbia faculty, their idea was that if Columbia decided to engage me to be a tenured professor then I must be really good. And even if I were doing things that they didn't, that they would disagree with, they were backing me up. One example: I was named the law school's representative on the university senate. Women who were teaching in the university had a suspicion that they were not getting equal pay, so the start to finding out if that suspicion was right was finding out just what salaries the university was paying. And the administration's answer was, "That's secret information. All kinds of jealousies would result if we published them." And of course, you couldn't find out if Columbia was meeting its equal pay obligations without that information, which we eventually got and the suspicions proved right.
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Rudolph Giuliani

Former Mayor of New York City

The first time I ran, I lost by two percent, and the second time I ran, I won by two percent, and then I got reelected by a much larger number. But maybe the fact that so many people told me it couldn't be done challenged me. I'd go talk to people about, "Should I run for mayor?" and they would tell me, "You're crazy. You can't. You're a Republican. A Republican can't get elected. Being a mayor is a thankless job. The city's unmanageable, the city's ungovernable." Even books were written with those titles, "New York City is Ungovernable," "New York City is Unmanageable." Maybe there's something about my personality, but the more people told me that, the more I wanted to do it. It didn't make sense to me that the city was unmanageable or ungovernable. Nothing is unmanageable or ungovernable.
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Rudolph Giuliani

Former Mayor of New York City

Rudolph Giuliani: Well, I very much subscribe to the "Broken Windows" theory, a theory that was developed by Professors Wilson and Kelling, 25 years ago maybe. The idea of it is that you had to pay attention to small things, otherwise they would get out of control and become much worse. And that, in fact, in a lot of our approach to crime, quality of life, social programs, we were allowing small things to get worse rather than dealing with them at the earliest possible stage. That approach had been tried in other cities, but all small cities, and there was a big debate about whether it could work in a city as large as New York. One of the ways that New York used to resist any kind of change was to say, "It can't work here," because they wanted to keep the status quo. There is such a desire for people to do that, to keep the status quo. And I thought, "Well, there's no reason why it can't work in New York City. We have bigger resources. We may have bigger problems, we have bigger resources, the same theory should work." So we started paying attention to the things that were being ignored. Aggressive panhandling, the squeegee operators that would come up to your car and wash the window of your car whether you wanted it or not -- and sometimes smashed people's cars or tires or windows -- the street-level drug-dealing; the prostitution; the graffiti, all these things that were deteriorating the city. So we said, "We're going to pay attention to that," and it worked. It worked because we not only got a big reduction in that, and an improvement in the quality of life, but massive reductions in homicide, and New York City turned from the crime capital of America to the safest large city in the country for five, six years in a row.
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Louise Glück

Former Poet Laureate of the United States

I had long thought that to be an artist involved -- and I think there's writers who make this case -- the repudiation of the world. You channel all of these vital energies into only this one thing. You're not distracted by pleasure or ordinariness. You don't do any job that would use those same pieces of your mind. And that was, to me, temperamentally congenial. Repudiation was something I was very good at. So I lived in my 20s mainly fending off -- not experience, because it was a time of great love affairs and so on -- but professional work of a kind that would, I thought, draw on my vital juices. I was a secretary, which did not do that. But my writing life at that point was spent sitting in front of a piece of white paper at a typewriter completely paralyzed. And I would think, "I've got to write something," and I would write "the" and then push really hard and "tree" would come out. But everything was dead. I had exhausted a mode of writing in my first book. I had no new sound to make. You had to hear first a message from the ear, a kind of sound, a phrase. I had nothing to go on. And I kept doing less and less, because I thought I wasn't sacrificing enough, I wasn't renouncing enough. Finally it occurred to me that I wasn't going to be an artist, that this dearest wish of my heart would not be answered, and I thought I'd better think of something to do.
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Louise Glück

Former Poet Laureate of the United States

If someone's really a beginner, then you simply try to isolate the moments when the poem seems alive, as opposed to inert. You know, if you can see from the first line where it's going, and then it goes there, it's a dead thing. It takes you nowhere you don't know already. And if it does so in elegant metaphors, so what? This poem has already been written 3,000 times. But when you see something that is unprecedented, and if you can show the person that. So that's one level of teaching, but then once people become really artists -- young artists, but artists -- it's not doing it better according to some formula. It's, "Where does the poem wilt a little?" Where is it the most conventional or generic, and can that moment be addressed and reinvented, so that that taint of the generic will be forever obliterated? It's that that you try to do. It's a fascinating problem, and different for every poem. To try to feel out what separates this from a memorable work of art, and how could it become that memorable work of art? It's what you do on your own work too, but it's the same thing with theirs, only they're making a different kind of poem, a different kind of sound. It looks different on the page. Their concerns are different. So imaginatively, you enter the universe of that poem. And, in a way, you do that when you read great work. But there's something wonderful about having that kind of immersion when the thing is still malleable. It's thrilling, and poems can be transformed. And the students, of course, or young writers, get very excited when that happens. But every one of those books that I chose -- and then sometimes worked on with the people -- had different strengths, different problems. They were each utterly unique. Jay Hopler is nothing like Peter Streckfus, and neither of them is anything like Richard Silken. All those books had different problems.
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