"Laptop computers, sharp objects, metal or plastic drink bottles, backpacks and bags or purses larger than a standard sheet of paper, posters, and any food or drink."
President Obama will be speaking on the UW-Madison campus, and obviously, they expect a huge crowd, but I have watched students walk through the mall, the central crossroads of campus, for years, and I think they mostly have their computers, they surely have backpacks or big bags of one kind or another, and there's lots of food and drink. So anyone who wants to go to the event and is paying attention to the rules will need to plan ahead.
You can't just come over after class, because you'll have your backpack and laptop. And if you're just passing through and thinking of hanging out, because you're somewhat interested, you're going to be turned away because you have the stuff you normally have, and suddenly it's a national security threat. The screening process begins at 3:30 and the event goes on for several hours, and you're supposed to get by without anything to drink.
I'm sure they'll get a good crowd here anyway, but it's got to be a big irritation for many students to be rejected simply for having your normal gear. What if you come to campus by bus or a long walk?
Also, obviously, they don't want people with signs. No "posters." But I'm sure UW students know how to concoct signage without getting snagged by any of the restrictions. At the Class of 1995 law school reunion on Friday, I saw a video that included — among other things — the way some law students spelled out "UW Law" on the 50 yard line at the football stadium. With 4 willing souls, one being 2 letters wide, they accomplished the free expression. They can take away your posters, but they can't take away your underpants.
Ah, but you need to be respectful and hear out what the President says, which is — I assume — that you really need to vote for Democrats in November. That's the message. It's nothing loftier than that. It's a big political rally, snarling Madison traffic — on our narrow isthmus — blocking passage through the center of campus, and depriving us of our computers and our freedom of expression.