Image by Florida International University via Flickr
FIUSM Editorial Board
On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the University was surprised by a visit from the President of the United States, Barack Obama. At least part of the University was surprised by this visit, as those involved in the organization of the event were likely informed prior to the University’s community. A visit from the nation’s president in any situation surely begins with meticulous planning.
Obama visited the campus for a nationally televised town hall on immigration reform, hosted by Miami-based Telemundo and MSNBC anchor Jose Díaz-Balart. Clearly, a visit from Obama would go down as a monumental experience for the University and its community. In a way, it was the recognition of our University as a reputable academic institution, being the selected venue of such an important event.
As students of the University that was looked upon favorably in this event, it would only make sense that careful consideration was exercised to provide students the opportunity to witness the town hall firsthand. Students were invited after all to sit in the same room as Obama, but we’d argue the lack of careful consideration throughout the process.
The first time the University’s community was notified of the event was on Thursday, Feb. 19, with an email simply stating that a nationally televised event would be taking place at the Modesto A. Maidique campus. The second email sent on Friday, Feb. 20, finally mentioned Obama would be the one visiting, vaguely explaining the ticketing and invite process for access to the town hall. The third and final time, a University-wide email was sent out the day before the event, informing the University of the potential traffic issues, with a brief statement indicating that students invited to the town hall were already notified.
Much to our surprise, FIU Student Media didn’t receive an invitation. We tried our best to get in, either as media or as audience members, to no avail. Our logic behind this was that if it was known that media would not be given access to the room in which Obama would be interviewed, the least that could have been done was invite us out of courtesy, as the University’s student-run news organization.
It might seem pointless to argue about not being invited to the event after the fact, but the problem doesn’t stop there. The process of being invited to the town hall was never properly explained in the emails, in terms of the criteria. It was just stated that students would be invited and that was it. Not whether you would be considered for your academic standings or even your contributions to the University. Rumors of who was invited and how spread throughout, further indicating that this wasn’t done properly. No one was certain on how to get in and probably made to believe that just about anyone could attend, as tickets were mentioned in the emails.
We suggest that in future occurrences, be it as grand as the president visiting our institution or not, the University needs to be clear on who gets chosen. Not only that, but considerate. The merit on who was chosen was not transparent. And in instances such as this, where some student organizations were over-represented, the University should try to get more of the relatable organizations into the room.