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April 15, 2010

What Were They Thinking?

Free_538079  One of my alma maters has been in the news this week, . Located in Turlock and known to its students as Turkey Tech, the university is having its fiftieth anniversary this year. To celebrate the big event, the CSUS Foundation, a non-profit organization that routinely solicits former students like myself for money, selected former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as its featured guest for the black-tie gala. Tickets have sold out, at the price of $500 per person.

Palin's controversial scheduled appearance has been in the local news for a few weeks and made the national news on April 14 because some dumpster-diving students obtained what appear to be shredded contractual requirements for the Palin engagement. All celebrities have contracted requirements for accommodations and the like, so the contents of the discovered document are not exactly earth-shattering. 

The larger issue is whether the Foundation was correct to invite a politically polarizing figure like Palin to mark the fiftieth anniversary of an institution which serves the entire community. The supposedly apolitical Foundation, which is housed on the CSUS campus and utilizes CSUS resources, has just entered The Gray Zone.

Democratic candidate for Governor is planning an investigation of the CSUS Foundation, looking for violations of the Public Records Act in the shredding of the documents. I hope he also looks into the ease of dumpster diving at the college campus and ways it can be prevented in the future.

The Foundation's main purpose is to raise money for the campus. The Foundation's board thought that fund raising could best be accomplished by having Sarah Palin as the featured speaker. The Foundation has steadfastly refused to divulge how much Palin is being paid and how they are paying for her fee and expenses reportedly to be in excess of $100,000. Publicity for the event could not be better. Controversy has paid off in spades.

But good judgment, which you would expect institutions of higher learning to have, is conspicuous in its absence. Surely a speaker of more universal appeal would have been a wiser choice. Celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of a beautiful college campus which still has small class sizes, a nicely rounded curriculum and an excellent faculty should be the reason for the event. Not politics. Not controversy. And although the Foundation is not legally obliged to be transparent in the spending of its funds, I wish that they would be for the sake of maintaining their integrity.

As for my future, albeit small, financial contributions to the CSUS foundation?

Don't call me, I'll call you.

Sharon also blogs at Channeling Ricky. This is an original post to the .