She said: “That was clear. But the question was how to do this in a way that was fair to everyone in the community.”
Ms. Martin, who has been chancellor since September 2008, was thrilled by the chance. You couldn’t buy this kind of educational experience, or, quite frankly, this kind of publicity; it’s an honor. But she worried about the fairness of having campus life disrupted by a political event. A day or so of fretting followed....This time, in the heat of Obama's reelection campaign, there was no "day or so of fretting." Coordination with the campaign flowed smoothly, with the UW's website linking students to the campaign website and requiring them to provide their phone numbers and click "I'm In" to get tickets. I'm In... what? The campaign effort? And this time the event wouldn't be in Library Mall, inconveniencing food vendors and the 5 o'clock Mass-goers. It would be smack in the center of campus, displacing many university students and employees for an entire day.
Ms. Martin and the Board of Regents signed on, then received validation of that decision in the plans of students and faculty members to gather after the political rally to debate everything from the economy and the wars to the political process itself. The only dissent has come by e-mail from a couple of alumni, objecting to the use of the campus for the rally.
“This is a campus that values political speech,” Ms. Martin said.
But political speech comes at a cost. It meant the complete or partial closing of several buildings, from the University Bookstore to the spectacular State Historical Society building. It meant a day off for all the food vendors in Library Mall. It meant the cancellation of the 5 p.m. Mass at the St. Paul’s University Catholic Center.
Why didn't Biddy Martin put on a show of fretting this time? Take a day to brood publicly about the university's educational mission, the separation of education and politics, minimizing inconvenience, and setting up an after rally discussion session about the deeper meaning of it all?
Biddy Martin isn't here. The University drove her away by rejecting the plan for UW independence she negotiated with... Governor Scott Walker... boo hiss... toxic!
Martin understood politics. She performed well in the political theater, and then she took her bows and absconded to Amherst.