July 23 2014
Buyers’ Remorse at UCLA
Vicki E. Alger
A recent UCLA Daily Bruin poll asked students:
Hillary Clinton's recent $300,000 paycheck for speaking at the Luskin Lecture for Thought Leadership has captured the attention of news outlets around the country. What do these large fees for notable speakers say about UCLA and the Luskin lecture series?
A plurality of respondents (48 percent) thus far believe, “The large sums are inappropriate and demonstrate poor prioritizing on the part of the university.”
The College Fix reports that:
[Clinton’s] 90-minute March 5 appearance … amounts to roughly $3,300 per minute that the former Secretary of State and possible 2016 Democratic presidential contender earned for her time. …
UCLA’s Luskin lecture has paid for exactly three speeches to date: one from former President Bill Clinton in 2012, which cost $250,000; another by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2013, which the Daily Bruin reports earned the diplomat $180,000; and most recently by Hillary Clinton in March, who was given $300,000 for her time. …
In contrast, Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright have both given speeches at UCLA and charged nothing. UCLA officials claim private donations made it possible to offer hundreds of free tickets to students, which cost non-students $100 to $500 apiece, but the College Fix explained:
In fact, many students were shut out of the event due to a lack of space, prompting officials to agree to live-stream it to the overflow crowd. The venue choice had even prompted students to petition to have the speech relocated. “Live-streams are just like (glorified) videos, which we can watch on YouTube anytime,” one student who launched the petition told the Bruin. … “Students have the most to gain and usually most interest in such lectures, but it looks almost like a campaign event for Hillary where the only people who can afford to attend are those already donating to the campaign.”
Students benefit from hearing from a wide array of accomplished people at university-sponsored events. Turning high-profile speaking engagements into scholarship fundraisers, as UCLA officials claim they were doing, is also worthwhile. However, speakers should work with universities to waive, lower, or donate their fees, and university officials should seek out such philanthropic speakers. After all, university officials, whose salaries are paid for by taxpayers and out-of-pocket tuition, should be better stewards of the public and private dollars they receive.