GOP front-runner Donald Trump’s visit to the Mabee Center came with the usual controversy. Some in the ORU community were completely against the New York business man coming to campus.
A petition was started by an ORU alumna to prohibit Trump from coming to the Mabee Center. The petition collected 960 signatures and 321 comments, but fell short of its goal and never reached President William M. Wilson’s office.
The petition would have rendered no change to the availability of the Ma- bee Center for the Trump Rally had it reached the goal of 1,000 signatures.
The Mabee Center is a public facili- ty. Due to fair access laws, if the facility allows any political candidate to rent the venue, any candidate running for the same office must be given access to the same space for the same cost.
Ted Cruz was allowed to lease the building in December for a campaign rally, and Trump was given the same access to the Mabee Center in January.
“A decision was made several months ago that in the public interest this facility would be made available for lease to all recognized candidates for the office of the President of the United States in the November 2016 election,” said President William M. Wilson.“No candidate is given special discounts or preferential treatment.”
Giving fair access does not mean the university or its administration endorses the person or group renting the venue. ORU is not permitted to endorse any political candidate because of its nonprofit status.
While many students opposed the Trump rally, thousands of people were in attendance seeing the event as an opportunity to hear what Trump had to say and to form their own opinions on his political policies.
“I came to the Trump rally because I’ve seen a lot of bits on TV about what he’s had to say,” said ORU freshman Caleb Carter. “I wanted to hear what he has to say in person to get the full message from him and understand what he believes.”
During the rally Trump gave a brief overview of how he would “make America great again” as president. Stricter immigration policies, stronger military support, education reforms and gun control were a few topics he touched on in his speech.
“[It’s a] fantastic opportunity to see Donald Trump especially with the announcement last night that we got a new supporter [Sarah Palin] backing him,” said Tulsa resident Ken Reagan. “I really liked hearing his plan on how he can ‘make America great again.’”