Obama visit causes UI, downtown closures


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Many streets and areas near the Pentacrest will be cleared out as early as this evening, as University of Iowa and Iowa City officials anticipate the arrival of President Obama on Friday.

To ensure maximum security, nearly the entire Pentacrest will be closed beginning at 10 a.m. Friday, until the conclusion of the event that evening.

Schaeffer and MacLean Halls will close at 4 p.m. The Pappajohn Business Building, Trowbridge Hall, north campus and the IMU parking ramps will also be vacated early. Clinton and Jefferson Streets and Iowa Avenue will be closed or have restricted access.

The event, which is free and open to members of the public who have admission tickets, will feature the president and his wife, along with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife. Obama’s visit follows his presumptive acceptance speech for the presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., today.

The Obama campaign declined to comment on how many tickets were available for the event or on how many attendees the campaign anticipates.

Obama’s visit will be his second stop at the UI this year; he visited in April touting the importance of health care.

Charles Green, the assistant vice president for the UI police, said the department will amp up its presence on Friday.

“We will be using extra officers for the event,” Green said. “The Iowa City police are involved rather jointly, as are the North Liberty and Coralville police, along with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.”

Despite the excitement on campus, some see the hubbub as a big distraction.

UI psychology lecturer Meara Habashi teaches two sections of a class, both of which meet in Macbride Hall on Fridays.

While she is recording her lecture and posting it online for her students to view, she said the visit does cause disruptions for her class.

“It’s an inconvenience for both me and the students, but that’s the price you pay to have someone like [Obama] on campus,” she said.

UI political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle did not believe the visit would cause much disruption, because few classes are scheduled on Friday afternoons and evenings.

“Who goes to class on Fridays anyways?” he said.

Veronica Tessler, the owner of Yotopia Frozen Yogurt, 132 S. Clinton St., said the closing of Clinton Street will not negatively affect her business.

“I have been told that they’re closing some portions of downtown, but we aren’t anticipating much of a change since most of our customers arrive on foot,” she said.

Jamie Smith, the owner of Molly’s Cupcakes, 14 S. Clinton St.,  said she isn’t anticipating any disruptions, voicing her own support for the President.

“We get a lot of foot traffic, and even if it did affect us, it’s for a good cause; I fully support Barack Obama,” she said.

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