Letter to the Editor

By Jenny Thomas, Executive Director, ASUU Presenter’s Office

Editor:

In response to The Daily Utah Chronicle?s house editorial “Presenter’s Office Oversteps Bounds,” I’d first like to include comments from one of the founders of the Associated Students of the University of Utah Presenter’s Office, Dave Nilson.

He wrote, “the author of the editorial stated that the Hinckley Institute of Politics hosted Shimon Peres, former Israeli Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister. That is false. Shimon Peres came to speak to the U through the ASUU Presenter’s Office. The institute of politics was kind enough to provide a little sponsorship, but it was the Presenter’s Office, through a Salt Lake organization called the World Affairs Forum, that was able to bring Peres to the U. I personally worked with the World Affairs Forum, the FBI, the diplomatic secret service and all Utah law enforcement authorities to bring about this event.”

Maybe The Chronicle could stand to get its facts straight before forming its opinions.

For your information, beyond Shimon Peres, the ASUU Presenter’s Office has had a significant hand in bringing many great speakers in the past five years, including Lech Walesa, Michael Dyson, Carl Bernstein, Orville Schell and the Spitfire Tour, to name a few. We even underwrote student discount tickets to the Dalai Lama and David Sedaris.

As for the ASUU Presenter’s Office today, the office is in its fifth year of presenting world class speakers, and the special speakers project that the ASUU administration asked us to embark upon is both timely and warranted.

As for our regular speakers program, for next semester we already have confirmed filmmaker Sherman Alexie and hate crime activist Judy Shepard? two speakers we know will attract students.

Though you suggest we should “stay in touch with the students that fund it,” it is in fact students who have been and are planning many of these events. It is simply inaccurate to say that the ASUU Presenter’s Office is not listening to the students when, in fact, it is the students’ interests that are fueling the activities of this office.

As for “students paying twice,” this isn’t exactly true. A U student pays $14.44 a year to support the ASUU Presenter’s Office.

Many of its events?nearly 100 events a year?are free. And the students who choose to go to ticketed events often save at least this much off the general public ticket price on their first ticket purchase.

The ASUU Presenter’s Office is an excellent entertainment value for students. I think $14.44 is a small price to pay for building community at the U.

By the by, our annual budget is not $400,000 as your editorial indicated, but over $580,000, and nearly $200,000 comes from the “community at large” through grants and ticket revenues.

So, in fact, the “community at large” helps to underwrite events for students, not the other way around.

Jenny Thomas, Executive Director, ASUU Presenter’s Office