December 15, 2007

A pleasing local kerfluffle...

Last week my younger son, who is a student at SF State, was annoyed because a performance he wanted to see was abruptly cancelled in favor of a Sean Penn political event supporting Dennis Kucinch. My son, a member of the college Republicans, told me the College Democrats were outraged that their name was put on the flyers for the event. I didn't understand what the fuss was about, until he forwarded to me a "GatorGOP" e-mail. Here are some excerpts...

...Why did the school need the dems to sponsor this event? Why weren't the Dems given more notice? And why did the school essentially force them to sponsor the speaking engagement?...

...According to the Creative Arts department, no one other than Director Mary Ford had any knowledge of this event prior to 11am on Friday morning, just two hours before the event. Typical events held in Knuth hall are on a calendar for all to see and planned months in advance. The audio techs that ran the sound were informed they would be needed for the event the day of the event. Knuth Hall is the second most difficult room to schedule for events, second only to the very large McKenna hall which is right next to Knuth Hall. It takes student groups MONTHS of advance planning to use the room. The only explanation for an event of this magnitude becoming feasible to accomplish on such short notice is to circumvent normal channels of preparation. The only way to do that is to be, or know someone, very high ranking in the campus administration that can schedule a room with no notice and schedule staff to work the event on such short notice. Conversations between Campus PD and Vice President of Student Affairs Penny Saffold at the event revealed that even Saffold was unaware of the event until the morning of.

The most startling revelation comes from the Campus Police department who asserted that they had no knowledge of the event until 11am on Friday. Having only hours to prepare for security at an event featuring a wildly popular celebrity....

...The "SO WHAT" of it all: Under Federal Election Commission laws, the school is barred from endorsing or sponsoring any candidate for Federal office UNLESS they make an equal offer to every candidate for that office. Meaning that if the school sponsored a Kucinich endorsement event at SFSU, they would have to allow every candidate, Republican, Democrat or otherwise to use the same room for the same amount of time during the election cycle. The only other way it would be legal for only Kucinich to use the room would be if the Kucinich campaign paid FULL PRICE to rent the room and for security which would undoubtedly total in the thousands of dollars. Enter the College Democrats. As a student group, they pay a significantly reduced room renal fee and are not charge for security for events they sponsor. They also are not regulated by the FEC so they can bring just Kucinich if they want to without being forced to make an offer to other candidates.

The school told the Dems to sponsor the event or else, because the knew they'd be in violation of the law if they didn't charge Kucinich full price for room rental and security at event not sponsored by a student group. SFSU would essentially be making a MASSIVE in-kind contribution to a Presidential campaign. And of course with the academic year being over in two weeks (meaning no students will be on campus to come to other events) and the first presidential primary just 3-4 weeks away, it would be impossible to make an equal offer to every candidate for president.

It is very likely that if the College Democrats argue that they were forced to sign paperwork under duresss, the school will face legal proceedings for making a rather sizeable in-kind donation to the Dennis Kucinich campaign. And since the donation was made from a public school funded by tax-payer dollars....ANY tax-payer would be able to file suit against San Francisco State University....

I hope we learn more about this in the future. Preferably in the context of the leftist university administration getting into hot water...

Posted by John Weidner at December 15, 2007 9:08 AM
Weblog by John Weidner