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Public university reportedly pays Soledad O'Brien $40K for 2-hour speaking event: 'For $40,000 I’d rather have more parking'

Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Oklahoma State University reportedly paid former CNN host and author Soledad O'Brien $40,000 for a two-hour speaking engagement, according to a Monday report from Campus Reform.

What are the details?

O'Brien previously agreed to be the keynote speaker at the university's commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The outlet obtained an agreement between the university and the broadcaster, which included a "1-Hour Q&A session with journalism students."

In November, the school announced that O'Brien would speak at the free event, which took place on Jan. 20 at the school's McKnight Center for the Performing Arts.

At the time, Dr. Leon McClinton Jr. — the school's director of housing and residential life — said the school's division of student affairs as well as the division of institutional diversity were excited to welcome the journalist to campus.

“As we work to elevate our discourse surrounding race, equity, and inclusion, we look to new ideas, new modes of thinking,” he said in the announcement. “So when we get an opportunity to bring a voice like O’Brien’s to campus, it’s momentous. We’re looking forward to hearing her share her amazing story and rich perspective for the benefit of our students, this campus and this community.”

In her remarks, O'Brien discussed the importance of relying on the activism community and said that while King was certainly charismatic, he didn't — and couldn't — work alone.

“I think everybody here, especially the students in the audience today, regardless of your color, regardless of where you’re from, have the ability to demand and affect change,” O’Brien said. “We are not centuries removed from these struggles. And maybe more importantly, young people have often been catalysts for change, if they opt in to doing so. ... So of course, King is most relevant today, but in many ways, because a lot of the battles he was fighting for, we’re still fighting today, a lot of the things that he felt were issues have not been resolved. We haven’t solved them and moved on.”

Anything else?

At least one irate student told the outlet that she believed the speaking fee was outrageous.

"For $40,000 I'd rather have more parking," the student said.

The outlet reached out to both a spokesperson for the school and to O'Brien for comment on the speaking fee, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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