University of Virginia Declines to Host Obama Campaign Rally
The University of Virginia has declined a request to host President Obama for a campaign rally next week, complicating his planned tour of swing-state college campuses to court younger voters.
The school cited the impact of a presidential visit on the university's academic schedule and strained finances as reasons for turning Obama away.
The president's re-election campaign had hoped to rally students on the Charlottesville campus Wednesday on the final stop of a two-day tour aimed at countering the Republican National Convention in Florida.
On Tuesday, Obama will rally with students on the campuses of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, and Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colo. Classes at both schools began Monday. Classes at UVA are scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Obama campaign officials visited UVA last week to scout possible venues, submitting a formal proposal with the school for two options, university spokesman Carol Wood said. Neither was deemed acceptable.
"The use of either of the desired sites would require closing buildings adjacent to the sites for the entire day," Wood explained in a statement. "The cancellation of 186 classes would occur. … This would result in an extraordinary disruption of the second day of the new semester."
Wood said the university would also have had to foot the bill for added security measures on campus and along the presidential motorcade route. Because of the school's nonpartisan status, it would have to offer "the same accommodations and bear the same costs" for Mitt Romney, she said.
"While there are certainly financial implications to a state university that has seen faculty and staff salary freezes for the past five years, the primary reasons for declining the offer were related to disruption of the first days of classes," Wood said.
The Obama campaign announced Saturday that the president would still travel to Charlottesville on Wednesday but hold an off-campus rally at the nTelos Wireless Pavilion instead. The venue is roughly 20 blocks from the center of campus.
Wood said Obama campaign officials "completely understood" the decision and justification for not approving the request.
"We respect the determination by UVA officials that a visit was not compatible with their academic calendar and the needs of the University," Obama campaign spokesman Adam Fetcher said in a statement. "We will make tickets available to students and fully expect to have a strong UVA presence."
The president's tour, meant to counter the Republican convention in Florida, will highlight "the choice for young voters in this election" and push voter registration and turnout, the Obama campaign said.
This post has been updated.