Saturday, August 25, 2012

UVA Declines Obama Campaign Request - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

From: NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville

A University of Virginia spokeswoman says President Barack Obama will not be at the university when he comes to Charlottesville on Wednesday.  In a statement released Friday, it was confirmed that the university declined the president's request to speak at UVA.

UVA says the Obama campaign requested the use of one of two outdoor venues - the Amphitheater or the Harrison-Small Library plaza.  The university declined the request for a number of reasons including class cancellations, which 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. 

Virginia's top Democrat is playing down the snub.  While stopping in Albemarle County, Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran told NBC29, "We're proud that he's coming.  We're very excited that he's coming to Charlottesville, regardless of where in Charlottesville.  Charlottesville is known for the University of Virginia, so I don't think that's going to be missed on anyone." 

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.

According to the UVA Communications Office earlier on Friday, they offered up John Paul Jones Arena, but were told it "was not academic enough" by the Obama for America campaign. 

Meanwhile, Albemarle County Police Chief Steve Sellers says they know of a "proposed" location, but can't say where because of Secret Service restrictions.  It could be the nTelos Wireless Pavilion.

nTelos Wireless Pavilion General Manager Kirby Hutto tells NBC29 they've been asked to save the date, but nothing's been confirmed.  Regardless of where or when it is, the Obama campaign office says it's ready. 

Charlottesville Democratic Co-chair Jim Nix said, "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." 

Nix says there's no confirmed time or date for selling tickets for the event, but it's possible that the time will be set for Sunday at noon, if everything is in place by then.

The full details about the president's visit are expected to be released no later than this weekend.  We will bring you more information as soon as it becomes available. 

The NBC newsroom has received the following statement 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.

Additional details:  The use of McIntire Amphitheater would require the closing of the following buildings on Aug. 29: Bryan Hall, Cocke Hall,  Garrett Hall, Minor Hall, and possibly Maury Monroe halls. The parking lots behind Bryan and Clark would have to be closed for the day, as well as a portion of McCormick Road.

The use of the Harrison-Small Special Collections Library would require the closing of the Alderman Library, Special Collections Library, the temporary dining facility, Peabody Hall, and possibly Monroe Hall, the rooms along the West Range and a portion of McCormick.

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