By Jesse Lewis
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, October 1, 2004
Michael Moore, director of the highest grossing documentary of all time, "Fahrenheit 9/11," is set to receive $27,500 for his appearance at McKale Center Oct. 11, ASUA officials said.
The Associated Students of the University of Arizona is presenting Moore as a part of their ongoing effort to promote civic engagement among students, and tickets are being sold in the Arizona Bookstores for $5.
Fernando Ascencio, ASUA Speakers Board director, said ASUA originally offered Moore $40,000, his normal rate, to appear at the UA, but according to Moore's contract, hosts can only charge $5 per ticket.
"He required tickets only be $5 so we reduced our bids," Ascencio said.
Originally, ASUA officers said they could pay for the speech out of Speakers Board funds if necessary, Ascencio said.
With the rate of ticket sales, all of the money used to support the appearance will be paid directly out of ticket sales, Chapman said.
"The event is not being funded by student money, only funded by ticket sales," said Sara Birnbaum, ASUA executive vice president.
As of Wednesday, more than 7,000 tickets, which is about half of McKale Center's 14,500 person seating capacity, had been sold for the event, Ascencio said.
The $27,500 payment is strictly Moore's speaking fee, but ASUA will also incur the costs of providing security, UAPD officers, marketing costs and the cost of renting McKale Center, said Alistair Chapman, ASUA student body president.
Most people who sponsor an appearance by Moore have to pay $40,000, but after months of negotiations the cost was reduced, Chapman said.
ASUA must sell 60 percent of the venue's seats to cover all costs, a goal they believe will be met.
Most speakers who come to the UA are not paid for speaking, but these speakers do not always have the prominence or fame that Moore does.
"I think it's pretty fair that we have to pay," said Francisco Yanes, a regional development junior.
"He really doesn't have the need to come, he is more high profile (than most speakers) so I would expect him to be paid. If I was high profile, I'd expect to be paid, its like doing your job," Yanes said.
Funds from Moore ticket sales will pay for all aspects of the speech, whereas other ASUA sponsored speakers like conservative writer David T. Hardy, author of "Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man," is paid out of ASUA Speakers Board funds.
Hardy does not require as much money as Moore because he is a Tucson resident and agreed to appear for free, but ASUA will still have to pay for marketing the venue, Chapman said.
UA College Republicans started circulating a petition on campus last week expressing "displeasure" with the speaker choice, saying the ASUA invite is one-sided and asking for a conservative speaker of the same prominence as Moore.
Scott Dunaway, a history junior, said he thinks Moore being paid is like throwing money away. He said he appreciates that Hardy will be here to offer his side of the story.
"If people are paying to see him then that's his right in this capitalist society. I think it's good that they are bringing the guy that wrote the book against Moore to even it out," Dunaway said.
Hardy will speak in the Grand Ballroom in the Student Union Memorial Center Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
"In the end, Michael Moore is actually our cheapest speaker," because the audience will pay for most of it, Chapman said.
The event is not meant to make money for ASUA, and any excess profit will be used toward more events, Chapman said.
"This was never meant to be an ASUA fundraiser," Chapman said. "If we do make more money than to cover costs, then the money will go towards bringing in more speakers."
Caroline Guardino, a first year doctoral student studying special education, said that she thinks Moore's appearance will be positive and the $5 ticket price is not a problem.
"I like his political expression, so for me, if the money goes to him so he can create another movie or if it goes to the Democratic Party which he supports, then I'm for it, and $5 isn't too much to ask," Guardino said.