Number of Clint Eastwood "empty chair speech" views on YouTube: 273,256. Number of law enforcement officers on the street during RNC: 3,500. Number of arrests: two. Number of months taken to plan for RNC at UT? Eighteen months.
That is how long it took a small group of administrators at UT to come up with a plan to keep 6000 students safe during what was described to us by Homeland Security as one of four national security events this year in the U.S. We reviewed video from past conventions and spoke to administrators from other institutions that had similar events close to their campus. We met with lawyers, city officials and received briefings from every law enforcement agency known to man. We listened, talked, yelled, agreed, disagreed, emailed, joked, rolled our eyes and mostly ate a lot of fattening food at our 8:30 am meetings. Yes, egg biscuits and yogurt parfaits were all that was needed to entice this group, pretty sad.
The amount of time and devotion by this group in making sure the RNC was remembered for all the right reasons is immeasurable and priceless. Yet as I reflect on last week's events and listen to the local and national news, I find that everyone believes the RNC to have been anticlimactic, Y2K-esque event -- a whole lot of planning for nothing. I guess as a member of this group I could get upset. I would love to have those eighteen months of 8:30 am meetings back, especially the ones with the lawyers. A root canal is preferable to a legal briefing on first amendment rights. I could have done without having to answers countless emails from parents, faculty and student workers all asking what was being done about orientation and the first week of class. I especially love the emails from new students asking what exactly is the RNC and why is this class required. Yes, the future of America and they vote!
No, the RNC is just one of several non-memorable historical events at UT. Others include Babe Ruth hitting his longest home run ever in 1919 on where now stands The University of Tampa John Sykes College of Business. Or what happened at our campus in 1963 when President Kennedy visited Tampa on November 18th. His motorcade stopped directly in front of UT's main entrance. A statue of President Kennedy now stands on that very corner. Four days later on Nov 22, 1963, our 36th president would be assassinated in Dallas in a similar motorcade. No one remembers what he said in Tampa. His visit here was not remembered, a non-event.
In January of 2010 many of the same administrators who planned for the RNC at UT planned for President Obama and Vice President Biden's visit to our campus. Another non-event that took weeks of planning. Can you guess what that speech was about? All I can say is high-speed rail is not coming to Tampa. We can thank a Republican governor working closely with a Democratic president -- NOT.
No, we like non-events. We don't want to be remembered. This UT group of administrators will meet again soon I am sure. Our fair-haired leader (shout out to Dr. Devine) will assemble us again. She will look at all of us and say something endearing that makes us all follow her. She is like the Pied Piper of academic administrators. I swear, we all try to resist but we can't. We will all look at each other, protest; say some expletives; that would probably be me and maybe Sal. But in the end we would all do what it takes to make the next event not remembered, a "non-event."
Other organizations could take lessons from this group. We are far from perfect. We get things wrong all the time but we get things right when it counts. We are like family, we argue amongst ourselves but defend each other in front of others. We will have our last breakfast meeting this coming Wednesday and all I have to say is, "mom please enough with the egg biscuits!"
So Charlotte, we wish you a non-eventful DNC. We hope you have no "Isaac" in your future. If you are lucky, you may have the equivalent of our "Schwarzengator." Although I doubt it, you guys are just not as cool, sorry!
Just took another look at YouTube; Romney's nomination acceptance speech: 73,225 views. Eastwood's empty chair video: 276,350 views. Snookie's " I am pregnant" announcement: 541,280 views. I love my country, God Bless America!!!