UI's bill for Vice President Joe Biden's visit: $30,000

UI's bill for Vice President Joe Biden's visit: $30,000

URBANA — A week's worth of planning for a visit from the vice president generated some interesting numbers on campus.

The University of Illinois is still tabulating the final cost of Thursday's event, but spokeswoman Robin Kaler estimated the total at about $30,000. Most of the materials purchased will be reused, however, so the net cost is probably closer to $25,000, she said.

The chancellor's office will cover all expenses, using no state or tuition money, she said.

Labor costs were all internal — paying another campus unit to live-stream Joe Biden's speech, for example, she said.

The campus did buy more than 4,700 linear feet of lumber to build bleachers for the event, but it will be reused, she said.

Other costs included 500 "It's On Us" T-shirts and other signs for the event, which was centered around the sexual-assault prevention campaign.

The U.S. government covered all travel, Secret Service and other expenses associated with its employees during the vice president's trip, she said.

The "It's On Us" campaign also paid for the lighting and media-riser rental for the event, held at Campus Recreation Center-East.

The rec center, which had closed prior to the vice president's speech at 1 p.m. Thursday, reopened by 4:15 p.m. The gym reopened at 7 p.m.

Because of the event, the UI doubled the number of "It's On Us" pledges taken by members of the campus community, now at 3,162, Kaler noted.

"We know that our student leaders had a once-in-a-lifetime experience in working with White House planners and participating in a vice presidential visit. Finally, we saw that many students listened intently as the vice president gave a powerful speech asking them to stand up and protect each other," Kaler wrote in an assessment for Chancellor Phyllis Wise. "(I)f the event changes one heart, it was well worth the time and investment we made."

VP visit, by the numbers:

32 Student volunteers

50 Gallons of drinking water

500 "It's On Us" T-shirts (1 for the VP)

1,000 Feet of bike racks

4,708 Linear feet of lumber

6 Student selfies in the VP's limo

1 Tweet from Biden to Illinois Student Senate VP Matt Hill (which got 85 retweets and 185 favorites)

0 Planes stuck in the mud

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787 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 7:04 am

And nothing about having someone like Biden visit, was worth spending anything over a dime on.

Citizen1 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 9:04 am

Get a clue folks.  The state is broke.  That money could have gone to the food bank, or day care for the working poor or a host of other causes.  Biden?   So not worthy.

Anonymous71 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 9:04 am

Pleas read the article. The state did not pay for Biden's visit. The funds could NOT have gone to other sources, because the funds were targeted to help with the visit. The purpose of the visit was to address issues of sexual assault on college campuses which is a cause as worthy as the ones you mention. With this clarification, hopefully you will now applaud the visit because no state funds were used and it was for a good cause. 

Citizen1 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

Funds were used.  Did you see the c130 at the airport?  It was full of SUV's. Biden's little visit cost a lot more than $30,000.  What a waste.  Although the cause was an important one, the dollar for dollar benefit is and was a joke.  Why not spend the money on the important cause rather than one short speech on the subject?  

Anonymous71 wrote on April 26, 2015 at 6:04 pm

It's the same cost wherever the vp goes, nothing new. Elected officials travel. Get over it

reader0 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

One wonders if the awful N-G would make a stink about the cost of a visit from the vice president if he was a Republican shilling tax cuts for the wealthy and health care cuts for the poor and disabled.

For some perspective: $30,000 is also what the Illini football coach makes in six days.

BruckJr wrote on April 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

The university often cries poor mouth but when it comes to pandering to the radical left there's money aplenty.

reader0 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

Apparently "stop raping" is a "radical left" position. I'm afraid to wonder what the right wing position is.

BruckJr wrote on April 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

And rapes ceased at the conclusion of Joe's speech.  What a guy.

Local Yocal wrote on April 25, 2015 at 2:04 pm
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$30,000 could have paid the salary for a sexual assault counselor, or could have paid for security cameras if you think that would increase safety, could have paid for MTD night rides shuttles, could have paid for numerous DNA tests to put perpetrators in an institution, could have bought numerous cans of pepper spray, could have paid for self-defense classes, could have paid for an officer to walk the beat around the campus bars after 11:00 p.m. looking to identify incapicitated women to help, ect. 

Instead, we got a speech about what we already know. But omg! I got a picture of the Vice-President of the United States on my cellphone now!!!! Next time there's a call from the White House asking to pop in to score a few publicity points, say "No, thank you."

reader0 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Who are you kidding? Republicans don't want to pay for anything. Let's take the $30,000 in tax cuts--that's the right wing solution for everything right?

local reader wrote on April 25, 2015 at 2:04 pm

It is unfortunate that the purpose - preventing sexual violence- of the Vice President's visit was not the focus of the local coverage given its importance. The Chicago Tribune offered a good article on the visit and its impact. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-biden-at-u-of-i-20150423-story.html

Rocky7 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 4:04 pm


Someone always has to clean up when the circus leaves town.  Elephant droppings are expensive to move.

reader0 wrote on April 25, 2015 at 8:04 pm


dmlawyer wrote on April 26, 2015 at 1:04 pm

"The chancellor's office will cover all expenses, using no state or tuition money, she said."

What kind of Orwellian double speak is this ?

Unless the Chancellor took out his/her personal checkbook, the Chancellor's Office is taxpayers money.

Anonymous71 wrote on April 26, 2015 at 6:04 pm

The chancellor office also receives industry donations, I presume. Perhaps the funds were from industry. That's not taxpayer money.

dmlawyer wrote on April 27, 2015 at 7:04 am

And instead of writing 6 grants of $5,000 to deserving needy students, she wastes it on a dog and pony show.

Anonymous71 wrote on April 27, 2015 at 8:04 am

The University already gives grants and actively solicits funds for those. A safer environment may bring more good students here. Think abut positive long term impact rather immediate short term costs

Bulldogmojo wrote on April 27, 2015 at 4:04 pm


Even Obama was making jokes about Biden's creepy "back rubs" at the WHCD. I just can't get my mind around how they couldn't find someone else in this country more qualified to speak about sexual assault?

Maybe an actual sexual assualt survivor? Ashley Judd or Fran Drescher or Oprah? ANYONE ELSE? SMH



Molly1 wrote on April 28, 2015 at 9:04 am

I gotta agree with the Bulldog here.  What a crudy, creepy guy to come to speak about inappropriateness between the sexes.  Heck, surprised that they didn't dig up Bill Clinton to come speak.

But whatever, whoever, I don't care.  I am happy that the subject was addressed, and want to see sexual violence stopped.

But hey all, this is 2015, the VP or anyone else, could have stayed in their nice cushy office, and Skyped or other teleconference with the population at the U of I.

No plane waste, was that on Earth Day?  If not, close to it.

No security costs.

No risk of an assassination attempt in our town.

Invite all of the U of I students into a large conference room, or rent out one of the theaters.

Cost, at most probably $1000.  And you could have had the President join, as well as other rape survivors speak for the same cost.  Just invite them into the conference, and they can participate from where ever they are.

All U of I's money belongs to the public, it is a public university.  Whether it was tax dollars, student tuition, or tax-deductable charitable donations provided by corporations, if you follow the money trail back far enough, it is money that could have been used for more efficient, more logical purposes.


Sid Saltfork wrote on April 28, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Cancel some retreats, and meetings attendance to pay for it.

I am surprised that some donors, and special interests groups did not pressure the Chancellor into "un-inviting" the Vice President of the United States to speak on campus.