Dr. Bill Ayers spoke on the UW campus on Wednesday, April 28, before an audience of 1,100. His talk focused on how to improve our schools. Dr. Ayers' venue and the security it entailed were made possible by donations from people in Wyoming. At the time of writing, the ad hoc group of Laramie residents estimates it raised the full $3,434.73 that UW charged to rent the athletic space and pay the Laramie police department. No tax dollars were involved. It would not have been possible for Dr. Ayers to speak at UW without Judge Downes' quick decision earlier in the week.
I thank all who contributed money and support. The ad hoc group will have a public meeting next week in the Laramie Recreation Center to account for donations it received. The meeting will address shortfalls and what to do with a surplus, should it exist. If there is, we will decide on its best use. At this time, I lean toward supporting the Matthew Shepard Foundation. We'll discuss that at the public meeting. The goal of the MSF is to replace hate with understanding, compassion and acceptance.
A FOIA request reveals that a rich Casper oilman threatened to withdraw a $2 million donation for suites at the university's football stadium. This private money would have secured a $2 million match. I submit that UW President Dr. Tom Buchanan was, at a minimum, economical with the truth when he said that the issue was campus security. In retrospect, the issue was money and loss of administrative nerve. Moreover, the $4 million was for something peripheral to the core functions of a publicly funded university. Compounding it was pressure from a state governor and conservative gubernatorial candidates. Some day UW's upper administration may put a higher premium on teaching than skyboxes.
It just didn't happen this time.
DONAL O'TOOLE, Laramie