Expected Bush visit prompts Southern to raise security

Expected Bush visit prompts Southern to raise security

Expected Bush visit prompts Southern to raise security

Alexandra Nicolas

Today, security on Missouri Southern’s campus means more than getting a ticket for parking in a faculty/staff lot.

According to the White House and Republican National Committee, President George W. Bush will visit the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center today to support Jim Talent (R-Mo.) in his U.S. Senate race against Democrat Claire McCaskill. Republican officials said Bush will discuss current domestic issues.

The event is sponsored by the RNC, who rented the facility for the standard rate of $750 per day plus overtime, if required.

The President is expected to arrive by motorcade in the late morning or early afternoon to address party supporters and VIPs such as Southern’s Board of Governors. All guests will be put through security checkpoints, metal detectors and searches by the Secret Service.

The route for the motorcade is planned, but the exact route will not be revealed for security purposes.

The event is a private, invitation-only Republican Party event and tickets are required for admittance. University officials expect a full Leggett & Platt Athletic Center.

To obtain tickets, patrons had to receive security clearance which takes a minimum of 24 hours. Tickets have been available through the Republican National Committee, the College Republicans or even through Granny Schaffer’s Restaurant.

Many students and faculty displeased with the nature of the event and are preparing to demonstrate in one of the areas designated for uninvited spectators.

“People upset with the administration’s horrible record are coming out of the woodwork,” said Dr. Joy Dworkin, professor of English.

Those who are uninvited or wish to demonstrate will be restricted to an area behind Hearnes Hall where the motorcade will be in view.

“This is not a protest area, this is a designated viewing area,” said Ken Kennedy, safety and security manger. Kennedy said the University plans to avoid the incident that occurred in 1992. That year, President George H.W. Bush visited Southern on a reelection campaign swing. Demonstrators were removed from the rally and relocated to a location out of sight and earshot of the event.

The area behind Hearnes Hall will be the only viewing opportunity for uninvited guests. A live video feed will not be available due to security issues, according to the Secret Service.

However the lot behind Hearnes Hall is only one of several parking lots that will be closed for the purpose of securing the event site. There has been a 100-yard security perimeter around Leggett & Platt since the building’s closure and lock-down Thursday night.

All the parking lots adjacent to the building will be blocked off, including lots 11,12,14 and 16. Students and faculty will be asked to park north of Fred G. Hughes Stadium for the day and will not be allowed to exit the campus on the southeast side near Taylor Hall.

Members of the Secret Service made a preliminary sweep of Leggett & Platt Monday and have reportedly been present all week. Despite the brief closure of the Leggett & Platt on Monday, the building has remained open all week and University personnel said classes should go on as planned.

The Secret Service has been working in cooperation with Kennedy, Bob Harrington, director of the Physical Plant, as well as other administrators and local law enforcement.

“It’s been a really good time working with them,” Harrington said. “They are professionals at what they do.”

Though security measures will be tight and obvious, there will be more security than can been seen in plain view, the specifics of which were not made available to The Chart.

“All the security measures that need to be taken will be taken,” Harrington said. Security for the 1992 visit included armed officers on rooftops and plain-clothes officers in the crowd.

Those unable to obtain security clearance may view the motorcade and the Presidents exit in the designated viewing area set up in the parking lot behind Hearnes Hall. For more information on security and parking please contact Kennedy at 625-9741.