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University of Virginia Rejects President Obama's Speaking Request


UVA offered an alternate location but Obama campaign complained it "was not academic enough."

The University of Virginia on Friday declined President Barack Obama's request to speak at the university when he visits Charlottesville on Wednesday, a UVA spokesperson confirmed to WVIR-TV.

UVA shot down the president after his campaign reportedly requested the use of one of their two outdoor venues: the Amphitheater or the Harrison-Small Library plaza.

The university says it declined the commander-in-chief's request for several reasons, citing class cancellation concerns and security costs

WVIR has more details:

UVA estimates could be more than 186 classes on the second day of school. The other main reason is they would have to take on the full cost of security, and because of university policy and their federal and state tax exempt status, they would have to offer the same opportunity to the other candidate so as not to show favor for either candidate.

Other than the denied request from the university, questions still remain about the where and when of the event.

The Albemarle County Democratic Party blocked off 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on their website's calendar for Obama's visit, but there is still a lot of speculation and uncertainty.

UVA spokesperson Carol Wood confirmed President Obama will not be speaking at the university.  Meanwhile, other information coming in Friday is narrowing down the details.

However, in an interesting twist, the University of Virginia Communications Office said Friday they offered to allow the Obama campaign to use the John Paul Jones Arena, but Obama staffers replied, the location "was not academic enough."

Albemarle County Police Chief Steve Sellers said they may have a "proposed" location but can't reveal its location because of Secret Service restrictions. Nonetheless, WVIR reports that it could be the nTelos Wireless Pavilion.

Confirming some speculation, nTelos Wireless Pavilion General Manager Kirby Hutto told WVIR that they have been asked to "save the date" but no plans have been solidified.

"Virginia is one of the battleground states and we're quite excited that Charlottesville is considered one of the more important destinations in Virginia, a place that will play a big role in electing the next president, so we're very excited about it and looking forward to it," Charlottesville Democratic Co-chair Jim Nix said.

All the specifics about President Obama's now highly publicized visit are expected to be released sometime this weekend. Hopefully a location "academic" enough for the president can be located and booked.

Here is the full statement that WVIR received from University of Virginia Spokesperson Carol Wood:

Many of you have asked about whether President Obama will be holding an upcoming campaign rally in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia.

I am writing to tell you that the University met with five members of the Obama Presidential Campaign on Wednesday. The campaign requested the use of one of two outdoor University venues  — the Amphitheater or the Harrison-Small Library plaza.  After reviewing the campaign's request for either of these two sites and the impact on the University, the University declined the request for the following reasons:

  • As you know, Aug. 29 is the second day of classes overall and the first day of classes on the Monday/Wednesday/Friday academic schedule.
  • The use of either of the desired sites would require closing buildings adjacent to the sites for the entire day.
  • The cancellation of 186 classes would occur if the site is the Amphitheater or closing of the libraries and Newcomb dining if the site is the Harrison-Small plaza. This would result in an extraordinary disruption of the second day of the new semester.
  • In addition to the disruption to classes, the University would have to bear the full cost of security — a substantial and open-ended expenditure of staff time and money.
  • By University policy, we would also have to offer the same accommodations and bear the same costs for other candidates.  Both our federal and state tax-exempt status requires that we not favor any candidate.
  • The Secret Service will have final approval on the site chosen and will dictate the security requirements, but at a minimum the buildings adjacent to the event venue would need to be closed on Aug. 29.  Adjacent buildings will be searched and secured with officers posted in each starting at least 6 hours prior to the event.

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