The Arizona Desert Lamp

Inauguration follow-up

Posted in Campus, Politics by Evan Lisull on 16 January 2009

1. Here’s an example of how to properly host an inauguration event:

Beginning at 9:30 a.m., African American Student Affairs will host its Barack Obama Inauguration Viewing event in the Cellar Bistro, which is located in the basement of the Student Union Memorial Center, 1303 E. University Blvd. Refreshments will be served during the event.

Having a relevant club host the event is exactly how this should have happened. Now, the use of Centennial looks even less defensible. If Arizona Public Media had partnered with the AASA and the Young Democrats, and rented out Gallagher Theater, would that have not been enough room to satiate Obamamania?

Notice that I’m not mad about the visiting of Ira Glass,  or even the Red Army Band (sadly, canceled!) All of these have very legitimate artistic ends. But for all of Obama’s basso-profundo rhetoric (quick: write an Obama line in the comments, without referencing an outside source), an inauguration is a political, not an artistic, event.

Meanwhile, the Young Democrats have been completely mute — isn’t this their Great Hope, his praises worthy of being shouted from the mountains? Bravo to AASA for taking the initiative into their own hands.

2. Also, why the need for “high-definition” ? I understand that Huffington Post has been gaga over his shirtless form; but if the argument for this event is its “educational value,” there’s no reason why you can’t go to the library with some headphones, and listen to the speech on the radio (or even watch, with this nifty “Internet” thing they keep telling me about).

3. The College Republicans have issued a press release:

TUCSON, ARIZONA – Unfortunately, a branch of the University of Arizona is once again engaging in inappropriate political activity.  This time, it is UA Presents who is sponsoring a special screening of President-Elect Obama’s Inauguration.

The official invitation from UA Presents, which reads “WITNESS HISTORY… Experience this landmark event, live in high definition” is a clear endorsement of the election of Barack Obama.  We believe that it is completely unacceptable for an official entity of the University to blatantly use its resources to promote a particular political figure.

Additionally, we believe that there is no precedent for UA Presents hosting an Inaugural celebration as we have found no evidence that they fêted President Bush in the same manner for either of his inaugurations.  We have little doubt that the same festivities would not have been planned if Senator John McCain, Arizona’s native son, had won the Presidency.

Regrettably, this stunt is just the latest example of a university system that is hopelessly biased.  As we noted in a prior press release, the Associated Students of the University of Arizona (ASUA) engaged in similar activity by lending their name to an Obama “Yes We Did!” Celebration Rally the week following the election.  Just as we called on ASUA to dissociate themselves from the partisan event, we call on UA Presents to do the same.

It is time that the University, including all of its official entities, behave in a responsible manner that accurately represents the views of the student body they purport to serve.  UA Presents should remember that they exist to serve all students on campus, and should not neglect this responsibility in the name of promoting their favored political figure.

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2 Responses

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  1. Connor Mendenhall said, on 16 January 2009 at 10:31 am

    “I strongly oppose retroactive immunity in the FISA bill.”

    I don’t see this as partisan subterfuge as much as plain old heedless hopejacking—which is worse, because it’s an unmindful bias. Politics certainly has something to do with it, but it’s also another symptom of the cult of the presidency. When we’ve anointed our President-elect as a demigod, who wouldn’t want to pack Centennial Hall to watch the apotheosis?

  2. Matt Styer said, on 19 January 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Connor pretty much hit it on the head (if a little over the top). You don’t like it Evan, but Obama is a cultural phenomenon, much moreso than a political one at this point.

    But at the end of the day Evan, do you really care? I think your political bias is occluding your good judgment here. I think your invocation of “the state” and such talk in the other post suggests that it flags your political sensibilities (as in choosing affiliations) at least as much as your sense of right and wrong. I don’t think you’d invoke the same language if this were President-elect Ron Paul. After all, this “official arm of the state” brings in bias all the time.

    This amounts to a non-issue: there may be some political bias at work, but the bottom line (which is most of the line) is that a ton of people are really excited about Obama, who is really good at speaking. Look at how many people are flocking into DC, at how breathlessly CNN is counting down the seconds til the inauguration, etc, etc. You’d have to be crazy not to realize this is an absolutely massive cultural event, and hence, the normal rules are not going to apply.

    COINCIDENTALLY, the College Republicans haven’t taken the hint.


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