WellesleyWeston Magazine

WINTER 2016-2017

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: https://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/745407

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Page 69 of 211

★ ★ ★ Schechter makes no secret that he's a progressive liberal, but he said he tried to keep his political preferences out of the classroom. "My primary goal was developing the ability to reason analytically, which goes beyond any specific issue. That's what's most useful to you as an adult—that you can look at something and pick it apart and under- stand it in some depth." He encouraged students to cast aside their prejudices and put them- selves in the other guy's shoes. He would tell them: "See why that per- son has those views and then try relating your own feelings to that." He carried this philosophy beyond the classroom through two Washington, D.C.-based programs. As one of the rotating directors of a summer internship program—founded in 1945 and still going strong—he gave Clinton her first taste of Washington politics, placing her with the House Republican Conference. Through the second program, which Schechter launched in January 1990, he and his wife escorted 20 students annually to the capital for two weeks of meetings with prominent Wellesley alumnae and other leaders in the public and nonpublic sphere. They ranged from Hillary herself— who welcomed students at the White House and later her Senate office and the State Department—to anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist. ★ ★ ★ One January morning, at the end of the 1998 winter session, the Schechters stopped by the White House to say their goodbyes to Hillary before returning to Wellesley. An aide interrupted, telling the first lady she was needed at a meeting over how to respond to a scandal. At that time, Schecter said, he didn't know what it was about. He hadn't yet heard the name that would soon be known around the world: Monica Lewinsky. "Hillary put her hand on my upper arm, just above the elbow, and she said, 'Alan, there's not any proof to this story whatsoever.' And she took off, and we took off." That night, back home, the Schechters watched the late night news. There were the Clintons, denying the allegations about the president's affair with the White House intern. "What it proved to us was that she really didn't know Lewinsky at that point in time," Schechter said. "As my wife said, 'Of course, what man who is philandering is going to tell his wife?' " Schechter said he has never discussed the matter since with his former student. an interview with alan schechter 68 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | w i n t e r 2 0 1 6 / 2 0 1 7 "The best way to judge a person is to look at their life experience, not just specific things along the way."

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