Vince Sweeney, vice chancellor for university relations, said the university takes the concerns seriously and will respond formally but hadn't done so as of Wednesday night. In linking to the Obama campaign's registration site on the university's website, the university sought to provide as much information as possible to interested attendees, he said.Library Mall is not the center of campus, and it was closed down later in the day. Even so, there was much hand-wringing from the administration about whether the event impinged on the University's education mission. And notably, Obama wasn't running for office in 2010. This time, it seems the University jumped at the opportunity to provide Obama, now facing an election, with the most beautiful photo-op possible, shutting down many buildings — and many classrooms — for an entire school day.
"We don't manage the (Obama) link, we're not collecting that information, and ultimately if it's a problem for those wishing to attend, it's an individual decision" whether or not to provide an email address and phone number, he said.
Sweeney said the campaign approached the university about holding the event at Bascom Hill, and the university decided it could make the site work, noting there are advantages for the university in showcasing a central attraction on campus. Obama also visited campus in 2010, that time holding a campaign rally across the street at Library Mall.
Obama's campaign will pay UW-Madison $15,000 for Thursday's rally....What?!
... Police and other public safety costs will be borne by taxpayers. For the 2010 visit, those costs added up to about $260,000.Wow! What a contribution to the campaign! University personnel have been working like mad on this visit, with all sorts of construction and wiring and papering over windows and so forth for the last 2 days. We've had to rearrange our work schedules, find new classrooms or methods of teaching. The cost and the disruption are immense even before the event has begun. $15,000! But supposedly we get some valuable PR out of "showcasing a central attraction on campus." What about the negative PR we get out of shunting aside our educational mission?
ADDED: I am personally messing up the hoped-for PR. To the extent that I'm turning the positive to negative, I'm subtracting value from the University. My dissent is costing the taxpayers money, and I apologize for that.
AND: More here, including maps showing the extent to which UW students and employees are excluded from our work and study places. And:
A set of guidelines released by the university Sept. 8 read “political activities are generally not allowed inside campus buildings or spaces, recreational sports facilities, athletics facilities or campus libraries.”Rented by the campaign... for a paltry $15,000, with the huge difference in cost coming from the taxpayers.
“Clearly it’s a campaign space, a space that’s being rented by a campaign,” said Vice Chancellor for University Relations Vince Sweeney in reaction to Mayer’s criticisms. “But it is the President of the United States.”
“Having a president visit as an educational public event is one thing,” Mayer wrote. “Forcing students to declare their support for a presidential candidate in order to attend the event on campus is quite another.”...
“It’s not a perfect situation,” Sweeney said. “But overall I think the benefits outweigh some of the negatives or the disruptions or issues that some people may raise.”Biddy Martin, you may remember, is gone, a consequence of our failure to support her in her negotiations on behalf of the University with state government, which was, at the time, dominated by Republicans against whom right-thinking Madisonians were protesting with great vigor. (The taxpayers had to foot the bill for those protests, of course.)
Downs said when Obama visited UW-Madison just two years ago, then Chancellor Biddy Martin insisted the event not be held on Bascom and instead moved it to Library Mall.
Martin made sure to “symbolically separate the event from the University itself,” according to Downs.