University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Sean Parnell received a number of complaints from students and faculty who don’t want former President Donald Trump on campus for his Save America rally on Saturday.
Trump’s organization, “Save America,” rented the Alaska Airlines Center, an arena that holds about 5,000 people, for $53,081. The event, which begins at 4 pm, is to support the campaigns of U.S. House candidate Sarah Palin, U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, and will also put funds into the main Save America coffers for future campaigns the PAC supports.
Parnell sent an all-campus letter in response to the student and faculty concerns that had been expressed:
“The university must review all facilities-use requests objectively with freedom of speech and other legal considerations at the forefront of decision making. This legal and ethical obligation is one of the many policies that safeguard freedom of expression on campus, an important aspect of UAA’s mission,” Parnell wrote.
“As a publicly funded university, it would be both illegal and unconstitutional to prevent a group from leasing university facilities based on speech that may occur in the facility or speech that we disagree with. Some exceptions to this First Amendment right do exist, but none of these exceptions apply in this case,” he wrote.
Parnell reminded the campus that the event is not being hosted by the university itself, but by the political action committee Save America.
The U.S. Secret Services is now in the neighborhood and coordinating with local law enforcement and security agencies to ensure the public’s safety and the safety of the former president and the candidates.
The Alaska Airlines Center was not the preferred location for the event; it’s a small arena. The Sullivan Arena can hold up to 8,700 people, but had been made into a temporary homeless shelter by former Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, and the damage from that project has not been repaired yet, even though the homeless were moved out of the Sullivan Arena last week.