One of the most enduring controversies of this semester has concerned the tickets to President Bill Clinton’s live keynote address — or rather, how so few students had an opportunity to buy them. Ever since the Meliora Weekend website couldn’t handle the ticket sale traffic — thereby turning a simple ordering process into a confusing crapshoot — the University has made several attempts to accommodate more students, each resulting in its own mini-conflicts. The University set up a number of free simulcasts for Clinton’s speech at venues across the River Campus, the Medical Center and the Eastman School of Music Campus. Spots for these simulcasts quickly filled up, but that didn’t stop patrons from grumbling about the experience of having to settle down in a crowded venue just to watch Clinton on a screen. Earlier this week, 200 free tickets reserved exclusively for students were given away in a lottery, and while that helped accommodate some student demand, it only made a dent and perpetuated frustrations about how getting tickets was just a matter of dumb luck. Try as UR has, it seems nearly impossible to please students in anticipation of our particularly exciting speaker.
Fortunately, we have technology. Seeing Clinton’s keynote address doesn’t need to just be a matter of procuring tickets or watching him from a screen in a room with hundreds of other people. If the University was able to set up several simulcasts across two campuses, why not expand that idea all the way and stream Clinton’s speech live on the UR website?
It’s safe to say that Clinton is the rare visiting speaker who just about every student has an interest in seeing. Now that the dust has settled from the ticket sales, lottery and simulcasts, streaming Clinton’s speech would be a perfect way to accommodate the rest of the student body that still wants to witness this event. Streaming would also be a nice resolution for those who were turned off by the idea of struggling just to get a seat at a simulcast. While the streamed video will obviously still not equal the live experience, it could give students an opportunity to enjoy Clinton’s address without having to throw themselves into the chaos of Meliora Weekend for the same experience.
If the University is worried about the intense web traffic a live stream would bring — and remember, web traffic is one of the reasons we’re in this mess to begin with — the video could perhaps require a UR ID and password for access to ensure it’s only viewed by UR students. Other than that issue, there’s little reason not to at least consider this solution. Clinton’s visit is a rare event that has excited the University community at large, and with the addition of a live stream, it would become a true once-in-a-lifetime experience: one that truly unites the entire community during Meliora Weekend.