Ayers event approved on 2nd try

Christina Chaey

After one failed attempt and months of controversy, former Weather Underground member and 1960s activist William Ayers will give a speech on social activism in Cahn Auditorium on Wednesday evening, the Muslim-cultural Students Association announced last week.

This time, the student group appears to have its bases covered.

“My understanding is that all the security, contractual and logistical issues have been resolved so the event can occur as scheduled,” said Vice President for University Relations Al Cubbage, who added that he was not personally involved in the planning process.

The event, entitled “Peaceful Progress: A Discourse on Affecting Change,” features Ayers, his wife Bernardine Dohrn, who is a professor at the School of Law, and Muslim activist Rami Nashashibi.

The original speech, scheduled for November, was postponed by university officials two days before the proposed date because McSA did not submit the contracts early enough. This left insufficient time to organize the necessary security measures, said Weinberg junior and McSA co-president Dana Shabeeb.

“The problem was that they had not prepared the event sufficiently for a number of resources within the university to be able to work with the event sponsors,” said Dan McAleer, assistant chief of University Police. Although McAleer declined to comment on security arrangements for Wednesday’s event, he said UP has heard rumors of a possible protest.

Several members of College Republicans discussed the possibility of protesting the event at a recent meeting, though no formal decision was made, said member Ben Strickberger.

“As far as I remember, there were two people in favor of it and two people who were not, and they just sort of discussed it,” the Weinberg junior said.

Shabeeb confirmed that she had heard rumors that several members of College Republicans were planning to protest the event but said any alleged demonstration would come from outside the student group. She said she expects security to be similar to that used when the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. spoke on campus in November.

“There’s going to be a high level of security to ensure the safety for students and for the speakers,” Shabeeb said.

The group planned Wednesday’s event over the holidays and submitted its proposal shortly after the beginning of Winter Quarter, well before a Student Activities Finance Board deadline that became a point of contention the last time McSA tried to bring Ayers to campus.

In November, McSA submitted the contracts to university officials for approval just three days before the scheduled date in what some called a hasty move. This prompted a host of complications aside from the security issues.

Following the debacle, Associated Student Government launched an investigation of McSA to determine whether it violated codes set forth by SAFB. Another ASG investigation, launched at the same time, examined SAFB’s role in handling the event.

ASG found McSA guilty of violating SAFB guidelines on publicity and contracting, because they did not submit the proposal by the minimum three weeks ahead of time.

Ayers, a Hyde Park neighbor of President Barack Obama, was a point of controversy during the 2008 presidential campaign when several Republicans sought to tie the Democrat to Ayers’ and Dohrn’s membership in the Weather Underground. Some of the group’s members were convicted of bombing federal buildings, including the Pentagon and Capitol Hill, though charges against Wednesday’s two headline speakers were dropped on a technicality.

Tickets are available free of charge at the Norris Box Office. There is a limit of three tickets per WildCARD, and only NU students may attend the event.

[email protected]