Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Demand for Bill Nye causes frustration

By Megan Zahneis, News Editor

UPDATE Wednesday 10:26 a.m. -- Lecture Series officials announced via Facebook that tonight's Nye lecture will be live-streamed for 350 additional attendees in Pavilion C of the Armstrong Student Center. Space is first-come, first-serve. The committee noted that its contract with Nye would not allow for a larger live-stream setup, and urged students who missed Friday's ticket distribution to arrive early to Hall Auditorium for a chance at an empty seat in the theater.

The Miami University Lecture Series is scrambling to arrange live-streaming capabilities for TV science personality Bill Nye's visit to campus Wednesday, after lines to get free tickets exceeded expectations on Friday.

Members of the Miami community could claim two free tickets each, beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, for Nye's "Science Rules" keynote in Hall Auditorium. But students appearing in a Facebook Live video Friday morning outside Hall said they began lining up for their chance to see Nye as early as midnight, camping outside for eight hours in order to secure a spot.

Hundreds of students had gathered by 7:35 a.m., and the nearly 700 tickets available were gone by 8:20 a.m.

"To be honest with you, I was expecting that the tickets would go quickly," said Lana Kay Rosenberg, an associate professor of kinesiology and health who is a member of the 11-person Lecture Series planning committee. "I didn't know they would go in 20 minutes."

Neither, apparently, did many students, who complained via social media. Junior zoology major Geneva Mommsen started a petition Saturday, urging Lecture Series officials to relocate Nye's keynote to Millett Hall. The petition had garnered almost 670 signatures as of Monday night.

"I guess I was hoping just to see that Miami would see just how many students wanted to be a part of the lecture," Mommsen said, "and add a little bit of motivation to talk to people at Millett and the HOME office about moving it or finding multiple lecture venues or broadcasting it in some way so that more students would have the ability to be there or hear it."

Rosenberg was not aware of the petition, which made its rounds on Facebook over the weekend, but said hosting Nye in Millett is a logistical impossibility, since the arena is being used by Miami's basketball team for practice.

"I commend [the petitioners] for being proactive, but you can't move it to a venue that is not available," Rosenberg said.

In the petition, Mommsen wrote that she felt Nye's lecture should be prioritized over the practice.

"I think a lot of people really do understand that Miami is a place for academics, and then athletics secondly," she told The Student. "It's very difficult to move a practice like that, I understand."

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter

Hall Auditorium was the largest venue available to the committee, Rosenberg said. Gates-Abegglen Theatre in the Center for Performing Arts, which seats 335, is being used for the theatre department's performance of the play "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead," while Stage Left is utilizing Wilks Theatre, which can hold 500, in the Armstrong Student Center for rehearsal of its "Heathers" production.

Rosenberg said Monday that the Lecture Series was working to secure a location to live-stream Nye's talk, which would accommodate up to 350 additional attendees.

"I'm not sure where [live-streaming] is going to happen or how it's going to happen, but I feel somewhat comfortable that we can make it happen," Rosenberg said. "We've done streaming on a number of occasions. We've had lots and lots and lots of interest on many of our lectures. This is certainly not the first one."

Live-streaming is a compromise Mommsen is content with.

"I think that's satisfactory in the sense that the petition's goal is to get people to understand that there are more people who wanted to see it and just [to] say, 'Can we do something, not necessarily move it to Millett?'" Mommsen said. "But knowing that my voice is heard and that those who are doing the petition feel like, 'OK, it might not have been the exact outcome we wanted, but Miami is making an effort and that's all we can ask of them [is important].'"