Clinton ‘trumps’ Donald for Dartmouth College venue
Despite refusing to grant permission to the College Republicans to host presidential candidate Donald Trump in the school’s largest auditorium in September, on the grounds that the space was not open to presidential candidates, Dartmouth College is now permitting Hillary Clinton to speak in the location this Tuesday.
Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school located in rural New Hampshire, has hosted many Republican and Democratic presidential candidates this election cycle in a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces across campus. Over Dartmouth’s summer term, Hillary Clinton drew a crowd of around 850 spectators at an outdoor venue.
Michelle Knesbach, a junior at Dartmouth and president of the school’s College Republicans chapter, told Campus Reform that the College Republicans began to invite candidates to campus after New Hampshire’s ‘First in the Nation’ event, where members of the group had the opportunity to meet the candidates and their staff in person.
“We discussed opportunities for Donald Trump to come up to Dartmouth. We got to the point where it looked like we had a date set for September 30,” Knesbach stated.
While previous candidates had drawn sizable crowds when they visited Dartmouth, students and Trump staffers anticipated the need for a much larger space than the other candidates had used. The only space that could fit the anticipated 800 people, Spaulding Auditorium, is located in Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts, a large building that is home to a number of performance spaces and many of the school’s arts programs.
Knesbach explained that, “knowing that Donald Trump was going to get a huge crowd, I asked for Spaulding Auditorium in an email to Laura LaMontagne, an events facilitator, around mid-August. I was told that it was a possibility, and we looked at availability. We were initially told, via email, that there might be a possibility of using Spaulding.”
Shortly thereafter, Knesbach and the College Republicans Vice President Charles Springer decided to expedite the process by going to see LaMontagne in person. Springer recalled that when they arrived to meet with her, they were joined by another college events staff member named Jim, who Campus Reform believes to be Jim Alberghini, the school’s events manager.
“We were initially talking about using Spaulding as a venue for Trump,” Knesbach said, “Then they explained to us that Spaulding was managed by the Hopkins Center and generally only used for Hopkins Center events.”
Springer corroborated this statement saying, “[t]hey said that there were only very, very rare exceptions to this and that large expenses and bureaucratic drama were required to make the auditorium available for any event not run by the Hopkins Center.”
Knesbach explained that the administrators listed examples illustrating that they never allow presidential candidates to use the space.
“They told us that candidates like Howard Dean and Barack Obama could have filled up Spaulding but were not given the opportunity to use it,” Knesback said.
“‘Candidates never get Spaulding.’ They said that word for word,” Springer reiterated.
A series of email exchanges between Knesbach, college administrators, and the Trump campaign followed the in-person conversation.
“We told the Trump campaign that we could not secure Spaulding for a candidate event. Then they said that they couldn’t visit because there was no indoor venue available that could seat at least 800 people,” said Knesbach, “I told the college via email that the Trump campaign required an indoor venue that could hold 800, and they replied that they could only offer us an outdoor location.”
As no space could be agreed upon, the Trump campaign decided to cancel its visit to Dartmouth College, choosing another New Hampshire location instead.
This past Friday, Dartmouth College Democrats sent a campus-wide email advertising another campus visit by Hillary Clinton. Knesbach and Springer said they were taken aback when they learned of the event’s location: Spaulding Auditorium.
Despite the Clinton campaign claiming the speaking engagement to be an official campaign event, as evidenced by the screenshot above, Dartmouth's Director of Media Relations , Diana Lawrence, told Campus Reform that, “Spaulding is not available for rent by anyone, including political candidates. It is, however, available for use (through reservation) by campus groups holding College-sponsored events. Hillary Clinton’s visit on Tuesday is an event sponsored by the Tuck School of Business as part of their presidential candidates’ speakers series.”
Lawrence also pointed out that during the 2012 presidential election cycle Spaulding Auditorium was host to a Republican presidential debate; however thus far during the current election cycle no candidates have been granted access to the space.
George Pataki, the former Republican governor of New York, and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham have already spoken at Dartmouth as part of the America’s Economic Future series, co-sponsored by the Tuck School of Business and the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center. Neither spoke at Spaulding Auditorium.
A spokesperson for the Trump campaign told Campus Reform that the claims made by the College Republicans are completely accurate and that the campaign was “told Spaulding Auditorium would be off limits to all presidential candidates this election cycle.”
The spokesperson added that the Trump campaign believes "this is a prime example of the school attempting to insert their bias onto the student population.”
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