UW-Madison prepares for Obama visit

Some campus buildings, roads to close Thursday
UW-Madison prepares for Obama visit

Preparations are under way on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus ahead of President Barack Obama’s campaign rally Thursday.

The event will be held on Bascom Hill at the heart of campus.

Crews were busy setting up the stage and performing security sweeps Wednesday.

Long lines are reported in the area behind Bascom Hall Thursday morning.

UW-Madison students relaxing on Bascom Hill on Wednesday said they’re excited for the president to come to campus.

“It’s such a unique thing that’s going on. It’s not often that a sitting president comes and does a talk here, especially in the context of what it is with the election coming up,” said student Brad Dalsanto.

“This is the first time we can vote, so that’s pretty exciting. And it’s the day after the debate, which I really like,” said student Rachel Buckly.

“So we’ll watch (the debate) tonight and then go watch (Obama) speak tomorrow,” said student Ally Cohen.

For safety and security reasons, Thursday’s event means limited parking as well as building closures surrounding the hill. Buildings being closed include Science Hall, Education, North Hall, South Hall, Law School and Music Hall.

Due to airport-like security measures, no one will be able to walk on Bascom Hill on Thursday, or go onto nearby rooftops.


With the president’s campaign speech being held at the center of campus, students said the halt of daily campus life may be inevitable.

“I have a couple of roommates that actually have some midterms that were going on tomorrow that have been cancelled until next week. It’s a big deal, especially for altering test schedules,” Dalsanto said.

“When you center this on Bascom Hill, there are classrooms, there are buildings, offices in the immediate vicinity, and to be honest with you, for folks involved in work or study in those buildings, it’s a major disruption. That’s the downside, but we think there’s enough of an upside that we decided to move forward with it,” said Vince Sweeney, vice chancellor for University Relations at UW-Madison.

Some have been critical of the campus disruption that comes with a visit like this. Some professors have pointed out this is a campaign stop, where attendees must register on the Obama campaign website to attend.

Critics said there’s a big difference between a presidential visit and a visit motivated by a re-election campaign. However, some students who said they aren’t voting for Obama said they still plan to attend Thursday to say there they were at the historic event.

Gates to enter the rally will open at noon Thursday. The event is free and open to the public, though registration is required for admittance to the event. Officials are not publicly releasing the time when Obama is expected to speak.

The line to enter the event will form on the sidewalk on Observatory Drive to the west of Bascom Hall.

Road closures will also occur Thursday, starting at 8:30 a.m. and until the end of the event. Campus streets that will be entirely or partially closed include, Observatory Drive, from Park to Charter, Langdon Street west of Lake Street, Park Street north of University Avenue and Charter Street north of Linden Drive.

Drivers can also expected afternoon delays while the president’s motorcade travels to and from the airport and the UW-Madison campus.

Thursday’s visit by Obama will be his third visit to Madison since winning the White House in 2008.