California State University Stanislaus takes great pride in its diverse student population. The school identifies itself as a “minority-serving” institution and advertises itself as having “outstanding retention across all demographics.” In fact CSU Stanislaus advertises itself as having a student population comprised of Hispanic, Asian, Black, Native Pacific Islanders, Native American and some students that have mixed ethnicity. Only 39% of the students at CSU Stanislaus are reported to be Caucasian.
Sarah Palin announced that she would be making a speaking appearance at the school on June 25, 2010. Nothing was disclosed about the fees that would be paid for the appearance, and in fact the school announced that the fee arrangement was confidential. The school made national headlines when students went dumpster diving and retrieved pages 4-9 of the contract. While the fee arrangement was not part of the pages retrieved, the luxury accommodations, the demand for only black automobiles, and the insistence for only bendable straws became the focus of many late night comedy routines. The story took a much more serious tone when threats were made to State Senator Leland Yee when he inquired as to the amount of the fee being paid to Palin by this state university.
Palingates, the website that posted uncensored copies of threats received on Senator Yee’s fax, has also provided confirmation of the fees paid for Palin’s appearance. Palingates has reported that the CSU Stanislaus foundation has made two payments to the Washington Speakers Bureau of $37,500 each, for a total of $75,000, and an additional $18,000 for deluxe hotels, four first class plane tickets, SUVs, and other expenses that we can only assume would include a generous supply of bendable straws.
The fact that the fee amounts to almost $93,000.00 is not surprising, given other speakers fees charged by Palin. The truly remarkable things about this appearance are that:
- CSU Stanislaus has recently announced, without warning, that scholarships at are being eliminated. These scholarships were previously funded by the CSU Stanislaus Foundation which is the same foundation that was cited as the source for the fees paid to Palin.
- It is curious that Sarah Palin would be targeted by any university in the country to address its students. The name “Sarah Palin” has not been synonymous with “superior intellect” or “higher education” (Litman 18-20).
- Palin’s own father has admitted that she has not been “comfortable” with Asians. Given Palin’s recent endorsement of the Arizona law which allows for racial profiling, and was clearly intended to target Latinos, one might assume that Palin’s level of discomfort extends beyond Asians.
So why would CSU Stanislaus spend this much money and be willing to generate public outcry to host Sarah Palin? Could it be that Kristin Olsen, the Assistant Vice President for Communications & Public Affairs who plays a leading role in the e-mail communications relating to Palin’s appearance is a local Republican politician, an opponent of abortion, and is herself running for the California assembly? Maybe it has something to do with Bernie Swain, the chairman of the Washington Speakers Bureau and is an old friend of the CSU Chancellor Charlie Reed from their days at George Washington University? Whatever the reason for paying over $90,000.00 to Palin, her fee represents an outrageous expense for this public institution with major financial challenges. This is a school that has had to reduce its budget by $584,000.00, and financial constraints have lead to a reduction in student enrollment.
It is amazing that Sarah Palin would donate her time to the NRA Convention, but she wouldn’t donate her time to this public institution of higher learning. We can only conclude that she values guns more than education.