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Donald Trump and any other candidate could visit campus

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Photo by: Karina Rivera | Staff Photographer
The Cabinet is talking about developing a policy for allowing political campaign events to take place on campus or not. The university feels that having candidates come to campus is an interesting and educational experience for students, but are taking steps to become adequately prepared for hosting such events as of now.

After being contacted by representatives of the Donald Trump presidential campaign Feb. 9, university officials are considering revising the policy concerning political campaign events on campus.

Officials received a call from a Trump campaign representative inquiring if the university had an available venue to host a political event, said Vicki Brittain, assistant to President Denise Trauth.

“At the time, they were considering having a campaign rally somewhere on the San Antonio/Austin corridor,” Brittain said.

After the call, a representative of the Trump campaign visited campus to ask if Trump could rent Strahan Coliseum for an event. Officials later learned representatives of the Trump campaign were only exploring the possibility and were no longer interested in hosting a rally on campus, Brittain said.

As far as university officials know, Trump has no intention of visiting Texas State.

Brittain said if Trump campaign representatives were interested, university officials would have allowed the rally to occur.

The request encouraged university officials to consider refining and updating the existing policy concerning political events on campus, Brittain said.

During the 2008 presidential race,President Barack Obama visited Texas State. Brittain said the subject of political campaigns on campus was not brought up again until recently.

“At this point, we don’t really have a policy,” Brittain said. “But, since the campaign season is really beginning to swing into full gear, it’s possible that we’ll get more calls from other candidates. In that case, we want to be ready.”

Officials in the President’s Cabinet decided to delegate a small group of faculty and administrators to work on developing a more structured official policy regarding political campaign events.

“We need to be proactive,” Brittain said. “I think it would be interesting for students for some of the candidates to come to campus. We just want to make sure that when it does happen, we are prepared.”

Brittain said possible policy changes are not intended to increase university officials’ authority to exercise selectivity when allowing candidates from different political backgrounds access to campus, as that would be unethical.

Any policy change concerning political events would regard technicalities of hosting an event, such as accommodation of extra security, she said.

“When Obama came to campus in 2008, he spoke outside by the river,” Brittain said. “It was a huge event. The Secret Service was everywhere. With any type of political campaign event, there are risks.”

Lauren Stotler, student body president, said hosting political events on campus would leave a positive impact on the university.

“I think it’s a good thing for the university to host these events, as long as the opportunity to visit is given to all candidates,” Stotler said. “Students need to be involved, so this is a great opportunity for the student body to get real exposure to the candidates they may eventually have to vote either for or against.”

Stotler recalled there have been instances in the past when candidates have come to student organization meetings.

“Just being able to speak to candidates on a personal level, and hearing what they stand for in person is so much better than reading it online or in a newspaper,” Stotler said. “Interactions like that have a much bigger impact.”

University officials would apply the first-come-first-served rule to candidates or parties interested in reserving a venue.

Candidates are welcome at the university, but officials need advance notice to ensure the speakers and audience are safe, said Margarita Arellano, dean of students.

“It is important that we ensure fairness,” Arellano said. “Everyone has a right to be here. Our policy must be broad enough and thorough enough to provide the coverage we need.”

 

The updated policy is tentatively estimated to be released within the next couple of months, Brittain said.