IOP invites Al Franken for Night of Comedy despite sexual harassment admission

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Content warning: This article contains mentions of sexual harassment.

UChicago’s Institute of Politics (IOP) has announced that former U.S. Senator Al Franken, who resigned from the Senate in January 2018 after multiple sexual harassment allegations surfaced against him, will join its roster of speakers at UChicago. April for a night of comedy and reflection on his time in the Senate.

The “An Evening of Comedy with Al Franken” event page at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

Kayla Rubenstein / Chicago brown


Before being elected as a Democratic Senator from Minnesota in 2008, Franken was primarily known as a comedian. He was a writer and actor for saturday night live throughout the 70s, 80s and early 90s, and later hosted a progressive radio show on Air America – an attempt to create a left-leaning counterpart to conservative talk radio. Franken has also written a number of films and books.

In November 2017, broadcaster Leeann Tweeden publicly accused Franken of forcibly kissing and groping her in December 2006 while they were both on a United Service Organizations tour in Iraq. In a blog post detailing the allegations, Tweeden included a photo in which a smiling Franken is seen groping her as she sleeps. On the same day, Franken issued a public apology to Tweeden.

Following Tweeden’s accusations, seven other women shared their stories of misconduct from Franken, who admitted he “crossed a line for some women” but denied some accusations. Pressure from politicians from the Democratic and Republican parties led Franken to announce his resignation from the Senate in December 2017. In 2019, a ninth woman accused Franken of groping her at an event in 2006 while working as an assistant of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).

Since stepping down on January 2, 2018, Franken has floated the idea of ​​running for office again and is currently traveling the country in his “The Only Former U.S. Senator Currently on Tour.” While in Chicago, Franken will speak at Ida Noyes Hall on April 28 in “An Evening of Comedy with Al Franken,” an event open to the public. In its announcement of the event, the IOP highlighted Franken’s status as a former senator but did not mention his history of sexual harassment.

The IOP wrote in a statement to Brown“We take allegations of sexual harassment very seriously and have carefully reviewed the circumstances surrounding Franken’s departure from the U.S. Senate in 2018. While a group of his colleagues have called for his resignation from the Senate, no complaints, charges or lawsuits official was never filed against him.The IOP statement did not mention evidence of Franken’s harassment.

“Given these facts and the positive reaction Franken received when visiting IOP students earlier this year, we were comfortable hosting him and the comedy show he did with. the tour of the country on our campus”, continues the press release of the IOP.

Phoenix Survivors Alliance (PSA) disagreed with IOP’s decision to invite Franken.

“We call on the University of Chicago IOP to immediately cancel Al Franken’s ‘Comedy Night’ and publicly apologize to the survivors of our university for hosting him during Sexual Assault Awareness Month. (SAAM). Franken has abused his power to engage in predatory behavior, has multiple allegations of sexual abuse, and has never taken responsibility for the harm he has caused,” PSA wrote in a statement to Brown. “By providing him with a platform for a ‘comedy’ event during SAAM, the IOP – and the University of Chicago as a whole – demonstrates utter disregard for survivors of sexual violence and others who have suffered at the hands of of people like Al Franken.”

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