Student opinions mixed over SU decision to fund Gore speech
Student reactions to the decision are mixed.
The vote in favor of funding Gore for that amount was 12-1 with two abstaining due to conflicts of interest. All voting members were in favor of bringing Gore to campus, but one member was in favor of allocating more money.
Pending final contracts being signed, Gore is expected to come to campus this spring.
Sophomore Elizabeth Peters said that while she’d be happy to attend Gore’s speech, she doubts the College Democrats will be able to coordinate the event to fit his schedule.
“I’d definitely go because I like his government policy talks, [but] I’ll be incredibly impressed if it actually goes through,” Peters said.
Of the 263 people SU surveyed in the DUC Monday, 162 students voted in favor of bringing Gore to campus.
Some students said that they are happy that a well-known speaker is coming to campus, but not necessarily happy that it is Gore.
“I’m kind of a skeptic of global warming and his agenda for different reasons. But he’s a big name and I think that’s good for the University,” freshman Michael Kruse said.
Others said they’re excited to hear Gore speak, as long as his lecture isn’t just a rehashing of “An Inconvenient Truth”—his Academy Award-winning film from 2006.
“I’m really excited about it,” sophomore Andrew Ridker said. “I’m excited for both the political and environmental perspectives he can bring—it’s kind of getting an all-in-one.”
Leaders of the College Democrats said that the former Vice President, Academy Award Winner and Nobel Peace Prize recipient would be an ideal speaker, appealing to a diverse audience by splitting his discussion between government and sustainability.
Students at the SU Treasury meeting generally spoke in favor of funding his speech, even while some disagreed with his political views.
“I also support this—even though I’m not the biggest fan of the guy,” said junior Joel Yambert, president of the College Republicans. “I think that this will bring a big social and political group of people…and I feel like it’s a great effort.”
The event, originally costing $149,850, was presented to SU Treasury at a reduced cost by negotiating the cost of Gore’s honorarium and obtaining funding from the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering, the Gephardt Institute, CS40 and the Department of Political Science.
The final cost of Gore’s honorarium was $110,000, which covers both his flights and his speech.
College Democrats ultimately appealed for $94,350, all of which was funded except for the $2,000 reception planned to follow his speech.
At the meeting, SU Treasury also allocated money to bring four small-cost speakers to the University.
Gore was the only “big speaker” on the docket. Asian Multicultural Council dropped its appeal to bring author and journalist Fareed Zakaria to the University earlier this week.
“After writing the presentation [for SU], our group realized Fareed Zakaria wasn’t exactly what the Asian Multicultural Council wanted to push for this year,” speaker for the group, David Yang, said. “It was a very sudden drop; we spent pretty much three to five hours writing the appeal, and then we were like—wait, this doesn’t make sense.”
The group joined the Korean Students Association in presenting its appeal to fund a speech by Daphne Kwok, an advisor to President Barack Obama.
SU Treasury funded their appeal for $2,021. Treasury also allocated funds to GlobeMed for Dr. Joia Mukherjee, Engineers Without Borders for TV personality Deanne Bell and Reflections for motivational speaker Jess Weiner.
Those groups were allocated $10,721, $8,150 and $6,727, respectively. Alpha Epsilon Delta, the pre-medical honorary society, was allocated $100 to hold a student discussion with Dr. Arthur Kleinman, who is coming as part of the University’s Assembly Series.