Clintonians, despite not being able to cheer Hillary Clinton on as secretary of state, should still find themselves mollified by the sheer number of public appearances Clinton has made recently.
Likely due in part to her preparation for a probable presidential run for 2016, Clinton has selectively inserted herself into the public domain not only via speaking engagements, but also through the publication of her recent autobiography.
She has chosen Wall Street banks, industry conventions, and universities as some of her main hubs for oratory. Needless to say, patrons of such spectacles are willing to pay high prices to attract Secretary Clinton to the floor.
Notice that universities, despite controversy over higher tuition rates have been willing to pay steep bills for a few minutes of Clinton’s wisdom.
In fact, this very topic was the subject of a recent article in The Washington Post.
According to the Post, Secretary Clinton has attracted the attention of at least eight universities, four of which are public schools.
At the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, “student government leaders wrote a letter to Clinton last week asking her to return the planned $225,000 fee to the university. If she does not, they say, they intend to protest her visit.” Keep in mind, that this very university system just opted to raise tuition by 17 percent over the course of the next four years.
Some students, such as Elias Benjelloun (current student body president at UNLV) characterized the spending as “reckless” and noted that costly collegiate ventures to bring in HRC “belittle the sacrifices students are consistently asked to make.”
Addressing the systemic problems posed by higher tuition rates and student debt has been central to the Democratic Party platform, so this could pose serious problems for Clinton if she does intend on pursuing a path to the White House.
In any case, such activity by some of America’s top universities has sparked even noted expert Harry Lewis, a professor and former undergraduate dean at Harvard, to comment on Clinton’s speaking engagements as “an extravagant form of advertising” that the colleges choose to participate in.
“What makes fees at this level outrageous…is that one speaker’s fee becomes comparable to what it costs to educate a student for several years,” Lewis interestingly said. These comments came despite the claim that “officials said her fee was paid through a lecture series endowment or private donations and not by tapping tuition, student fees or public dollars.”
Such a stunt by the universities is almost certainly aimed at enhancing the prestige of the institution, but at a time when millions of Americans and particularly college students must think frugally (remember that aggregate student debt currently sits at about $1.11 trillion) about their finances, surely such precious resources could be expended toward something more tangibly beneficial to the students themselves.