Former Attorney General Janet Reno collapsed during her UR speaking engagement on Jan. 30, leaving a packed Strong Auditorium shocked and confused.

She was taken to the emergency department of Strong Memorial Hospital, where it was determined that the cause of the collapse was a fainting spell.

“Reno suffered a simple fainting spell, which we believe was a result of a busy travel day, unusually warm conditions and the fact that she had not eaten much during the day,” physician John Franklin Richeson of Strong Hospital said in a release.

Reno was kept overnight for EKGs, a CAT scan and blood chemistry tests, all of which were normal. She was discharged at 9:40 a.m. on Jan. 31.

Reno was about 40 minutes into a speech about public service when she paused and said, “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have to sit down for a minute.”

Reno then looked around for a chair, swayed and fell to the ground. She remained on the floor for approximately 10 minutes. Audience members remained silently seated until they were told to leave, and then burst into quiet applause for the supine Reno.

“I know she sat up while she was on stage,” said Take Five Scholar Mindy Fountain, who is external chair of the Outside Speakers Committee. Fountain was one of the approximately seven people who ran up on stage when Reno collapsed. “She wasn’t passed out. She was awake.”

Reno then walked out the back door of the auditorium and got onto a stretcher. She reached the hospital at 10:05 p.m.

Reno’s talk exhorted students to go into public service, calling the profession “the most rewarding undertaking of my life.” She told stories of people who thanked her years later for helping them collect child support or become drug-free.

“I want to be governor because I’m concerned about public schools, equal opportunity and ending our culture of violence,” Reno said in a press conference earlier in the evening. “I want to do everything I can to preserve the environment.”

She was Florida state attorney for four terms, where she helped reform the juvenile justice system and established the Miami Drug Court. She worked for education reform and equal opportunity during her time in the Clinton administration ? a time that was not without controversy.

Far from shying away from her negative baggage, Reno openly talks about her struggle with Parkinson’s disease, her actions in the Elin Gonzalez case and her responsibility in the 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas.

Reno said she didn’t consider her illness when deciding to run for office, except to ask her doctor whether it would affect her ability to govern. He said it wouldn’t.

“If people look at me strangely and say, ‘Why is she shaking?’ I explain that it’s not my hand conducting a drunken orchestra ? it’s Parkinson’s disease,” Reno said.

Students showed overwhelming support for Reno, cheering at her entrance and breaking into applause during the talk.

Doctors at Strong Hospital said that the fainting spell should not have an effect on Reno’s campaign. “Other than her Parkinson’s, we found Ms. Reno to be in excellent health,” Richeson said. “What happened should have no impact on her everyday functioning, including campaigning.”

Le can be reached at cle@campustimes.org.



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