Filmmaker Moore might visit U campus

College Republicans said Moore can visit, but not with the University’s money.

Stephanie Kudrle

When the Minnesota College Republicans got word this week that liberal filmmaker Michael Moore might come to the University campus, questions and anger immediately followed.

The students said they wanted to know if the University was sponsoring and paying for Moore’s speech to the campus, as it has with past guest speakers.

“We want the University to be open and honest about all its dealings with Michael Moore,” said Jake Grassel, chairman of the Minnesota College Republicans.

Moore, a harsh critic of President George W. Bush, last visited the University in the fall. The University Bookstore was talking with Moore’s publicist last week to see if the filmmaker would be interested in coming to campus to promote his new book.

Grassel said he heard the University sometimes pays guest speakers as much as $40,000 to come to campus.

However, the University will not use tuition money, student fees or any other funds to pay Moore, University Services communications director Lori-Ann Williams said.

“It was never arranged that he would be paid,” she said. “It’s not supported by public dollars.”

Williams said different departments pay for guest speakers to come to campus, but the bookstore was arranging Moore’s visit. The bookstore is not a University department.

In addition, Moore would have to pay to rent facilities and cover all expenses related to his visit, Williams said.

Opinions on Moore’s visit vary widely, but the filmmaker’s publicist has yet to confirm that he’ll actually visit, University News Service spokesman David Ruth said.

Keeping Moore off campus isn’t the goal of College Republicans, Grassel said. The group simply doesn’t want University money to sponsor the possible visit.

Besides, the group benefits when Moore comes to campus, he said.

“Moore’s a lightning rod and when he spews his bio-hate speech on behalf of John Kerry, it just invigorates our base and excites them to work harder to elect George W. Bush,” Grassel said.

But Chris Montana, chairman of the College Democrats of Minnesota, said the College Republicans are overreacting to Moore’s possible visit.

He said they are upset about the visit because Republicans have been campaigning that college campuses are becoming conservative.

“But when you bring a high-profile person to campus and 5,000 people show up, it makes the reality inescapable and destroys the myth,” he said.

Bringing political figures to campus encourages debate and shouldn’t be looked at negatively, Montana said.

“We’re all here to learn,” he said. “Wait until (the) next surrogates from the Republicans come and see if we make a fuss.”

Since Moore visited campus last year, his fame has grown dramatically. His latest film, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” deeply criticized the president’s administration and policies, and became the highest-grossing documentary ever.