BGSU president explains use of Anderson Arena for Palin visit

News release from the president of BGSU:

As you may know, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is
scheduled to speak in Anderson Arena on Wednesday, October 29. I
wanted to share with you how we reached the decision to allow the
rally on campus when we were contacted by the Republican National
Committee (RNC).

Originally, they wanted to rent Perry Field House for the event.
However, the city fire marshal determined that the field house
capacity is 2,800 occupants.  So the event was moved to the arena,
which holds 5,500 people.

Given our current budget situation, the cost of the visit was a
primary concern.  However, the RNC has agreed to pay for the full cost
of the rally including, but not limited to: the use of Anderson Arena,
campus police, shuttle service and technology services.

The rental fee for Anderson Arena is established for all external
parties, and our senior administrators were able to estimate the other
expenses. All of these costs have been factored into our contract with
the RNC for the event.

The perception that we might be seen as favoring one political party
over another was also considered. Tax-exempt organizations, including
public universities, are prohibited from supporting or opposing
candidates running for elected office. I want to assure you that we
would extend the same courtesy to the Obama/Biden campaign and/or the
Democratic National Committee if they approached us about renting a
campus facility.

As a university, we value and respect everyone's right to free speech.
Those who wish to voice their support for other candidates or to
express opinions about other issues will be accommodated in an area
outside Anderson Arena.

In making this decision, we naturally weighed the inconvenience and
disruption for our students, faculty and staff. However, we concluded
that this was an opportunity to make the democratic process accessible
to the community. Strong democracies are based on an informed electorate.

The Office of Marketing and Communications will be sending a campus
update later today to provide details such as parking lot closures and
other short-term traffic disruptions.

I want to thank you all in advance for your patience and understanding
in dealing with the temporary inconveniences on Wednesday.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to
contact me.

Carol Cartwright
Interim President