By Blake Neff
Dartmouth College is under fire for using its largest auditorium to host a Hillary Clinton campaign event, after previously telling the Donald Trump campaign that it would now allow said auditorium to be used by presidential candidates.
Dartmouth’s decision was first reported by the website Campus Reform, which was told of the situation by Dartmouth College Republicans president Michelle Knesbach.
Knesbach told Campus Reform that in mid-August she was planning a campus event that would feature Trump. Anticipating significant local interest, the Trump campaign said the event would require seating for at least 800 people. Only one suitable location existed: Spaulding Auditorium, the school’s largest auditorium, located inside the Hopkins Center for the Arts.
Initially, school officials suggested this would be feasible, but during a follow-up meeting Knesbach was told by events facilitator Laura LaMontagne and events manager Jim Alberghini that Spaulding was typically only used for events put on by the Hopkins Center (such as plays and musical performances). While some exceptions to the rule could be made, the school said it wouldn’t do so for presidential candidate visits.
“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,” Knesbach said.
“‘Candidates never get Spaulding.’ They said that word for word,” added College Republicans vice president Charles Springer, who was also at the meeting.
Without permission to use Spaulding Auditorium, the planned Trump event for Sept. 30 was canceled and he eventually appeared elsewhere that day.
Now, less than two months later, the school has apparently changed its tune. On Tuesday, the school is hosting an event featuring Hillary Clinton in, that’s right, Spaulding Auditorium.
Clinton’s event is, at the least, slightly different from Trump’s. While Trump’s event was organized by the local College Republicans, Clinton’s was planned by the college’s own Tuck School of Business, as part of a speaker series that is bringing several presidential candidates to campus. Notably, though, two previous speakers in the series, Republicans Lindsey Graham and George Pataki, were both relegated to smaller spaces on campus. Furthermore, the Clinton campaign itself is describing the stop as an official campaign event, meaning the school can’t easily claim that Trump’s event would be political in nature while Clinton’s is not.
The Trump campaign told Campus Reform in a statement that the school’s handling of the matter was “a prime example of the school attempting to insert their bias onto the student population.”
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