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Obama visit to close Ohio State Oval, nearby buildings

With President Barack Obama’s visit to campus on the minds of many students and faculty, one question prevails: Should class be canceled?
The answer is mixed.
Wesley Skupski, a second-year in business finance, said teachers should be democratic about cancelling class.
“It should be up to the students in the class, they could have a vote,” he said.
Obama is scheduled to make an appearance on campus with musical artist will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas Tuesday afternoon. A stage was being constructed for the event Monday on the Oval.
Others didn’t think the visit should disrupt schedules. Jie Zhang, a first-year in computer science and engineering, said classes “shouldn’t be changed just because a famous person is coming to campus.”
Niraj Antani, communications director of Ohio State’s College Republicans, said no academics should be disrupted and no student or state dollars should be spent.
“We cannot shut down things that students pay for, that I would also argue the state pays for,” Antani said.
When Obama visited campus and spoke on the Oval two years ago, the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library was roped off for some time. When he came in March, the RPAC was shut down. Antani said this time, students should not be disrupted. Obama’s campaign paid to rent the Oval two years ago.
According to a November 2011 Lantern article, the Democratic National Convention picked up most of the cost from Obama’s last visit to the Oval, but the university paid nearly $80,000 of the tab. That includes the cost of public safety and security operations, preparation and cleanup expenses.
Obama paid the university $75,000 to rent out the Schottenstein Center near campus May 5 to kick off his re-election campaign.
“If students are denied access for the Thompson Library, then I will demand that students be reimbursed,” Antani said. That promise also includes reimbursement for canceled classes and other facilities.
Several buildings on the Oval will be closed during the event, and access to building entrances on the Oval will be limited.
By 11 a.m. Tuesday, Orton Hall and the Faculty Club will be closed. By noon, the Oval will be closed, but surrounding buildings will remain open, including Thompson Library.
An email to students described security for the event to be “airport-like.”
However, other students like Ethan Schimmoeller, a first-year in biomedical science, said class should be canceled because “it encourages kids to go out and see the president whether they support him or not.”
Gates for the free event are expected to open at 2 p.m. Tuesday, but a ticket that can be acquired from Obama’s website is required for entry.
Costs related to the event, like renting out the Oval, are being covered by Obama for America, according to the email to students.
In an email acquired by The Lantern, OSU President E. Gordon Gee said he was cancelling an address to faculty he had planned for Tuesday afternoon.
“In the spirit of not wanting to upstage our national leader, I have rescheduled my own address for next Thursday, October 18,” he wrote.
The first presidential debate was held last Wednesday evening at the University of Denver in Colorado, a swing state, and many analysts declared Republican nominee Mitt Romney the winner.
A vice presidential debate between Republican Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled for Thursday at Centre College in Kentucky, and the next presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in New York.
Obama was last in Columbus Sept. 17, when he spoke in Schiller Park in German Village to a crowd of about 4,500. Romney has not yet visited OSU’s campus, but he was in Columbus Sept. 26 at Westerville South High School, where he spoke to a crowd of about 1,700.
Romney is scheduled to host a rally in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Tuesday near Akron.
According to a Monday seven-day rolling Gallup poll, Obama leads Romney 50 percent to 45 percent nationwide.

Ally Marotti and Ryan Busansky contributed to this article.


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