Don’t get mad – or even – about Edwards’ speech

By Carlye Wisel

With $65,000, you can pay the yearly salary for three movie projectionists, buy 85 pairs of Christian Louboutin peep-toe slingbacks or fund 9,285 orders of Irish Nachos at Murphy’s Pub.

$65,000 is a hell of a lot of money. And frankly, John Edwards doesn’t deserve it.

Sure, he’s the most attractive Presidential candidate since JFK, and the fact that his wife, well, doesn’t look exactly like Jackie O. made him that much sweeter. His pearly white smile, bootstrap-pulling life story, stance on health care and inexplicably attractive comb-over could melt the heart of any democratic woman. And, unfortunately for him, did.

It’s frustrating – infuriating, even – that the university would dole out so much of our money for someone who we can near-unanimously agree does not deserve it in the wake of the Rielle Hunter affair scandal. Expected to speak about the ability of obtaining the American dream, John Edwards’ upcoming speech has become a pathetically ironic joke. Hearing Edwards tell us how to achieve our dreams while his included a secretly broken home and jaw-droppingly inappropriate affair is like booking Dane Cook to teach us how to be funny, or Jamar Smith lecturing about how to stay out of trouble.

But, while it’s easy to point fingers directly at the Illini Union Board, the truth is, it’s not their fault.

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They had very good intentions in trying to secure a professional, politically affiliated speaker who could shed light on the current state of the nation around the time of the upcoming election. They may have splurged, but when compared with the randomness of past guests such as Ben Stein and the short list of other possible speakers – Karl Rove, terrifyingly enough, was one of the options -a presidential candidate who was fresh off the campaign trail must have seemed like a hot ticket, especially because he was.

Well, actually, not for all of us. And that’s where the hidden issue comes in. For a campus-wide lecture open to every university student who can obtain tickets, it’s a bold choice to book a speaker who is wholly placed on one side of the political spectrum, so much so that he participated in a full presidential election for the Democratic party. On top of that, to learn that his character is different than previously expected means that now large numbers of both Republicans and Democrats will possibly be upset at the choice.

It’s not that we’re delving into personal matters by blowing an affair out of proportion. Edwards did something highly inappropriate, and the Illini Union Board clearly recognized its significance, considering they offered him the opportunity to rescind his contract.

What I don’t understand is why we don’t have that same opportunity.

There are a handful of refundable fees that students can request be credited back to their student account, ranging from a Krannert Center for the Performing Arts fee and Study Abroad Scholarship fee to SORF, a Student Organization Resource Fee that funds RSOs. One fee that’s not refundable? The $1.50 the Illini Union Board Lectures Committee receives per student to host lectures annually.

You can rebate money for scholarships, cultural and arts programming, but the money spent on choosing a political speaker who performs in a venue that only fits a fraction of the student body is unarguable. The Illini Union Board gave John Edwards a chance to back out, but left us, those who provided his massive paycheck, without a similar choice. Even if the Illini Union Board tried their best and failed, we deserve the same option Edwards was provided with.

Regardless of their valiant booking efforts or good intentions, it’s not fair that an organization gives Edwards, a cheating, lying politician more respect than the students.

They should let us have our refund, too.

Carlye is a senior in News-Editorial Journalism who wishes they booked Lewis Black instead. Political commentary and profanity? Now that’s worth the price tag.