Plans for Annanƒ?TMs appearance still vague

By Brian Martucci

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan ƒ?TM61 is set to speak at Macalester April 22, but organizers have yet to finalize key details of the visit. Planning has been complicated by uncertainties over the amount of space needed for the event, the publicity the college can create, and the student bodyƒ?TMs general interest in Annanƒ?TMs appearance, according to Dean of Students Laurie Hamre and Presidentƒ?TMs Assistant Sandy Hill.Over the years, Hill has organized three of Annanƒ?TMs on-campus speeches, and planning for each event has been complicated by Annanƒ?TMs busy schedule.

ƒ?oeMr. Annan has quite a few things on his plate right now,ƒ?? said Hill.

Based on attendance at other high-profile lectures, Hill has estimated a student turnout near 1,000, as well as a significant number of alumni and faculty members.

ƒ?oeOnce everything is finalized and word of the appearance gets out, weƒ?TMre confident that alumni will want to show up for it,ƒ?? he said.

The only indoor space on campus able to comfortably and legally seat upwards of 1,000 adults is the fieldhouse, which has a capacity of around 2,500.

An overestimation of student interest would put a prominent statesman in the embarrassing position of delivering a speech to a half-empty room.

To avoid this, administration officials have begun to discuss holding a publicity conference with local media outlets to drum up support both on- and off-campus for Mr. Annanƒ?TMs appearance.

ƒ?oeWe want there to be as many seats at this event as there are people,ƒ?? Hill said.

While the fieldhouse is the administrationƒ?TMs first choice, it is not the only option.

ƒ?oeFor Mr. Annanƒ?TMs speech we discussed Kagin ballroom, the gymnasium, and the fieldhouse,ƒ?? Hamre said.

While it is too early to tell how many seats the college will reserve for students as opposed to alumni and faculty, organizers said they would likely use a ticket system if the event were to take place in the fieldhouse.

ƒ?oeI would guess we will have the specifics of the system, including the number [of tickets] available for students, worked out within the next two weeks,ƒ?? Hamre said.

If the fieldhouse option were to prove infeasible, the administration would have to resort to a lottery system similar to the one being used for New York Times columnist Thomas Friedmanƒ?TMs lecture on March 28.

That lottery will use CBORD, a type of software that randomly selects names from a digital list. ƒ?oeStudents will go to the Info Desk in the Campus Center to have their ID swiped to enter the lottery for 375 student tickets,ƒ?? Hamre said.

Approximately 500 additional seats will be available in John B. Davis Lecture Hall and the chapel for a closed-circuit remote broadcast of the speech. ƒ?oeStudents who do not get seats in the Ballroom will automatically be in line for the remote viewing,ƒ?? Hamre said.

Planning for a lottery drawing for Annanƒ?TMs speech would be complicated by space constraints since demand for his appearance is widely expected to be greater than for Friedman. If there are more student names than seats in the lottery, seniority may become a factor.

Reaction to news of arrangements for Annanƒ?TMs appearance has been mixed.

ƒ?oeI would like to see him speak,ƒ?? Oscar Boyle-Mejia ƒ?TM09 said. ƒ?oeI donƒ?TMt think I have any less of a right to see him than anyone else.ƒ??

Also at issue is the number of seats that will be reserved for faculty members at the event, even if it is held in the fieldhouse. Currently there will be 88 faculty tickets, or slightly more than one seat for every two professors.

Sociology professor Erik Larson was not concerned about the lack of space at the speech for him and his colleagues.

ƒ?oeThe students are the ones paying the tuition, so it seems like a pretty fair distribution to me,ƒ?? he said.

Peter Rachleff of the History department shared this sentiment.

ƒ?oeI donƒ?TMt really have a problem with it,ƒ?? he said. ƒ?oeI probably wonƒ?TMt be attending anyway.ƒ??