What chaps my a$$ this week?

I’m so glad you asked.  How about hosting a visit from the President of the United States in the quad next to your office and classroom building during the second week of classes, of course!  This is very exciting for Baa Ram U., as President Obama and the leadership here share the same neoliberal vision for higher education apparently, but for those of us who actually work here and teach face-to-face classes to actual human students with our own voices and physical bodies (for the time being!), what a pain in the a$$!  They’ve already started shutting down the parking lots adjacent to my building, and tomorrow (the day of the visit) we can’t even get into our offices.  They don’t care if we already have IDs and keys–no access, period.  But of course, we’re expected to teach our regularly scheduled classes!  Perfect.

I’ve seen a U.S. President up close (sorta).  George Bush the Elder dropped by Philadelphia for a fundraiser in a fancy downtown hotel in the summer of 1991 or 1992 when I was in graduate school, and in order to get his motorcade back to the airport, the local constabulary and the Secret Service shut down all of Walnut Street and the entire Schuylkill Expressway right around rush hour one night.  I lived at 2032 Walnut Street, and we weren’t commanded to stay inside our buildings, so I just went outside to sit on the stoop to watch the show.  It was pretty exciting, even though I’m no Republican:  first the state troopers come zooming by on their motorcycles, then the police cars with bubble lights aglow, and then finally the fleet of limos in which the President travels.  (They don’t announce in advance which car he’ll be in, or on which side he’ll ride, of course.)  It was so exciting that I couldn’t help myself–I waved enthusiastically at Bush when I saw his goofy, bespectacled mug on my side of the street.

It’s just as well that I don’t teach on Tuesday and was already planning to stay home to work from there.  Sometimes it’s a good thing to live about 30 miles from my campus.  I wonder where U.S. Presidents will go to fire up the youth vote when all of our teaching goes online?  Send more e-mails?  Record a podcast?  Yeah, that will be just as inspiring, I’m sure!

(For more on this, go read Jonathan Rees at More or Less Bunk.  I was too depressed to link to him last week, but I’m grateful that he saw my post from last week about online ed and has recorded some of his own thoughts.)

21 thoughts on “What chaps my a$$ this week?

  1. HA-ha. CSU’s attitude is classic CSU: of course we’re not cancelling classes, you students and proffies will just have to figure it out on your own.

    Since they don’t give a $hit about F2F classes (which even they recognize are not infinitely scalable) and don’t recognize F2F teaching as real labor, then why am I surprised. I must remember: I can never be too cynical.

    ProfSweddy: enjoy the isolation!!


  2. Us lowly a$$eS teach in DC. Talk about disruptions! We experience it regularly. In addition we have the World Bank and the IMF two blocks away and they have way too much money not to meet several times a year blocking traffic all around to stop Bakunin’s descendents. (They fly 1st class of course.)

    As Big Dawg says: “I feel your pain.” Even the Penn related one since my kid went there about the time you mention.


  3. A few years ago, I had to fight security to let me into the building where my office is, at 7 in the morning (I needed to work early). It was blocked because George Clooney was shooting there. I even saw him (though I didn’t speak to him). Now that’s a glamorous inconvenience.


  4. I almost had an even closer encounter with the Bush Tang Clan than you did, Historiann, in December of 2008 and scarcely a long block away from your old place. I was crossing 21st St. on Spruce, eastbound, on a Saturday morning when I heard a hellacious screech of an incoming jet plane. I say “incoming” rather than “approaching” because I really thought for a second that Bin Laden had gotten in round two. I looked up and saw at about three times the height of the brownstone townhouses a gigantic blue-and-white 747 seemingly getting ready to belly flop on Broad Street. I literally didn’t know what to make of it, had never seen a plane anywhere near that low over the city, but having dodged the bullet, breakfast was still what was in order. It was only a half-hour later sitting at the counter at Little Pete’s that I read in the NYT something like “”President Bush [II] will really have to hustle today if he wants to make the opening kickoff of the Army-Navy game after signing [some bill in some eastern location].” All I could think was that he had barged into the cockpit of AF-I wearing his “Mission Accomplished” jacket, demanded control of the plane from some hapless Lt. Col., and put that Texas National Guard training to dubious use.

    I also saw Bill Clinton in a big rally at Penn in 1996, but have no recollection that they barred anybody from their offices or anything like that. The metal detector crush was pretty intensive, though.


  5. I was once trapped on a sailboat, meters away from the dock but unable to go ashore or back out on the water, because President Clinton would at some time in the next few hours arrive by motorcade to helicopter away from the adjacent airfield. We ate sandwiches while bobbing up and down.


  6. This event does not imply endorsement by Colorado State University. The university, as public property, was selected as the site by the Obama campaign, which will be responsible for all costs they incur for the event.

    So CSU doesn’t endorse it, but couldn’t refuse to host even though it entails a massive disruption to campus?

    I think I passed within 10 feet or so of Michael Dukakis several eons ago, in Ann Arbor, walking home after a long day on campus. That’s the closest I’ve ever come to a presidential encounter….which is to say, not very close at all!


  7. Back int he 1960s, my mother force-marched me across an airport to shake hands with Nelson Rockefeller. At first I thought it was ridiculous (I think I was — 10?) but the sight and fell of Rocky plunging through the crowd, losing his Brylcreem hold, grinning and grabbing hands, gave me my first real sense of why politics was cool.

    Never lost it. On the other hand, those colleagues of mine who did a graduation/honorary degree with candidate Obama sad that the Secret Service snipers on the roof of Olin Library were horribly unnerving.


  8. You’re such a cynic, Historiann. Just think of all the great publicity this is going to generate for Baa Ram U. Enrollments in those on-line courses are going to go through the roof! Think of all the travel money you will have next year.

    Joe Biden came to N. Colorado during the last election campaign. Funny, I don’t remember it being at all intrusive, but mostly because I think only about 50 people showed up. Me included, of course!


  9. Bill Clinton spoke at a graduation I attended in 2010. Even though he was no longer Prez, the security was tight. We were staying in a dorm that overlooked the quad where he was to speak, and we had to be out of our rooms by several hours before, so that the secret service could do their sweep. Nevertheless, he was a great speaker and a good time was had by all, I think.

    A student of my acquaintance was asked to drive in the Presidential motorcade when he came to her town–he was not speaking at the university, but somewhere else. I don’t know whether it was a Presidential visit or a campaign visit, but they needed volunteer drivers and she is active in College Democrats. She drove a couple of Secret Service officers in a rented SUV. I never really thought about the logistics of all this before–how when there’s a motorcade outside of DC a lot of the cars must be rented, and that maybe the Secret Service need to have their eyes elsewhere than on the road.


  10. Fun times!
    I was in Madison when Clinton/Gore were stumping the first time around and it was honestly the thrill of my young grad student self to elbow my way to the front of the crowd and shake Clinton’s hand with my left hand and Gore’s hand with my right. I think pretty much ALL of Madison was up at the Capitol for the event – a dose of lefty hope in the Bush Years I.


  11. I’m feeling a little less cranky since I learned that some of my students have tickets and they’re very excited. I’m guessing that a lot of classes in our building will be skipped tomorrow–but that’s OK. It’s worth missing a few classes (of which there will be yet 27 more in the semester) to get a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


  12. the logistics of all this

    I learned recently that a local professional (with connections, I guess) was hired to do hair and makeup when the President and entourage were here. It seems a good thing that they don’t travel with stylists but I never would have imagined this.


  13. Leslie W: I had a similar 1992 experience in a different midwestern town. It was the first big political (non-protest) rally I’d ever attended. The Big Dog was mesmerizing even from waaaay back in the crowd. I recall snapping out of it hours later and thinking wait, what just happened there? I had the same experience years later, when I certainly knew better. Some people are just great speakers. These personalities get people hooked into political participation and that is a good thing. My hope is that once hooked, folks can figure it out to analyze what has been said and what has been done.


  14. Had two close encounters of the political kind with presidential candidates

    Both at a SLAC in the center of the country (ej 🙂

    Got to have a beer with Gary Hart at the Pub on campus. Have a photo to prove it.

    Same year Ted Kennedy came to speak at the big old gym. The SS wouldn’t lets students wearing life preservers in the gym


  15. My first encounter with politics was 1960, when my mother took all three of us (8,6, and 1) to 125th St. and Park ave for a JFK rally. It was pretty exciting, especially since my brother got a nose bleed. Actually, I think the motorcycles were very exciting for a 6 year old.

    More recently,when a political notable came to my campus for graduation, we endured crazy silly security: lots of PITA, not much effectiveness for the metal detectors. The secret service detail on the roof of the opposite building, however? I believed in them. Not fun to have snipers pointing at you when you’re in your academic robes!

    And in 1992 I went to the middle of town where I then lived to see Hillary Clinton. She was incredibly impressive — she speaks in full sentences and paragraphs. Amazing.


  16. Susan: you raise a good point about the President’s visit to Baa Ram U.: it’s the one space on campus in which people are not allowed to bring their guns!

    Isn’t it fascinating how pols always exempt themselves and their work spaces (state and the national capitol bldgs.) when it comes to approving concealed carry permits? It’s like they don’t have the courage of their own convictions.


  17. My mom walked me up to the top of our street to watch President Ford roll by in his limo. We got a great photo (can’t find it now) of him waving throught the limo window, right at us. Then he went to speak at a nearby hotel and Dad went to the speech.


  18. Ooh, I can beat that in terms of sheer ass-chapping annoyance! We had similarly massive disruptions for a … televised Pac 10 football game held on our campus on a Thursday afternoon. This was the first (and thanks to outcry, the last) time that a game was held on a weekday. The warnings started months in advance: don’t even think about parking anywhere on or near campus as of 5 a.m. that morning. But of course, despite the parking ban (so rich alumns can park in your spot for the game), and the traffic clogging up all streets within a 3-mile radius, and the busses going nowhere because they’re as stuck as the cars, you’ll teach regularly scheduled classes, natch. A PoTUS visit will be a huge logistical hassle, sure, but at least it’s sort of about civics, right? And students will remember it as a signal event. This mid-week game was all about the TV $$$$$$$$$$. (It was actually quite funny seeing them try to convince us that it was about anything else.)


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