SU to vote on funding Gore, others to speak

| News Editor

More than a dozen student groups will spend the next two weeks vying for Student Union funding to bring speakers to campus.

SU Treasury has more than $300,000 that it can spend on bringing proposed speakers including Al Gore, Fareed Zakaria, John Legend and Garry Kasparov to campus.

Voting on big and small-cost speakers will take place at SU Treasury’s weekly meeting on Sept. 13. The group will vote on medium-cost speakers—those costing between $20,000 and $75,000—at its meeting on the 20th.

Collectively, groups are appealing for a total of nearly $800,000.

SU Treasury will be collecting student input on the appeals by emailing a survey and tabling at the DUC.

“It looks like a good possible lineup,” Speaker of the Treasury, Julian Nicks, said. “What I really enjoy is we have a lot more smaller groups…appealing for speakers.”

In addition to an unusually lengthy docket of appeals, Treasury is also seeing larger appeals than in the past.

The College Democrats will be appealing for almost $145,000 to pay Al Gore to speak on campus. That is equal to the amount used to fund the eight main speakers last year, including news anchor Soledad O’Brien, PostSecret founder Frank Warren, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales and journalist Nicholas Kristof.

If passed, it would be SU Treasury’s first time allocating more than $100,000 toward one speaker. Last year, it rejected the College Democrats’ appeal for $127,000 to bring TV comedy personality Bill Maher to campus.

This year’s Student Union executive slate allocated $115,000 to a big speaker account in hopes that SU Treasury would fund one expensive speaker this year.

College Democrats President Sherveen Mashayekhi said the group chose Al Gore because of his qualifications and ability to draw a large number of students. The group estimates that more than 1400 members of the community would attend.

“I think he’ll really speak to a very large audience…both to the political community and the environmental community at Wash. U.,” Mashayekhi said. “We are working with a bunch of campus partners and we’ve had really great feedback.”

The Asian Multicultural Council is also appealing for the money in the big speaker account to bring journalist and commentator Fareed Zakaria to campus.
For around $92,000, the group believes Zakaria would draw a crowd of around 800.

According to Nicks, the big speaker account is not the only change this year, Treasury is also putting pressure on student groups to appeal for funding early.
By encouraging groups wanting more than $15,000 for speakers to apply over the summer, Nicks said Treasury should be able to manage a more diverse Speaker Series, avoiding last-minute debacles like funding Bristol Palin last year.

Other significant-cost speaker appeals include those to fund chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov for $72,400, musician John Legend for $69,493, journalist David Brooks for $60,000 and neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta for $57,300.

Pending SU Treasury funding, the speakers will be coming to campus this spring.

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