FAYETTEVILLE Those planning to see one of the world’s best-known advocates for peace speak at the University of Arkansas will pass through metal detectors upon their entrance to Bud Walton Arena.
Security surrounding two public appearances by the 14th Dalai Lama on May 11 will reach levels rarely seen on the Fayetteville campus.
The university has rented metal sensors for the event that resemble the gate-like structures seen at airport security checkpoints, said university police Lt. Matt Mills. Everyone entering the arena must pass through the sensors, he said.
University police areworking with the U.S. State Department to ensure the safety of the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader.
The Dalai Lama, who recently resigned his role as the leader of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile, will be closely guarded while in Arkansas.
The thousands expected to attend the event will be watched by police brought in from local agencies as well as campus officers and a detail assigned by the State Department to the Dalai Lama, Mills said. The university is preparing for a capacity crowd of 13,750. The arena’s capacity for basketball games is 19,200.
Mills wouldn’t reveal the exact size of the temporaryforce, adding, “We’ll be doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes that the public won’t notice.”
Tickets to the Dalai Lama’s lecture sold out within hours the first day they were made available to the public. About 4,900 students received free tickets. The event is sponsored by the university’s student-financed Distinguished Lecture Series.
There are still 2,000 tickets available for the panel discussion that also features Sister Helen Prejean, an advocate against the death penalty, and civil-rights activist Vincent Harding, university spokesman Gina King said.
The panel discussion - “Turning Swords into Ploughshares: The ManyPaths of Non-Violence” - is scheduled for 9:30-11 a.m. The Dalai Lama’s keynote address, during which he will receive an honorary degree, willbe from 1:30-3 p.m. More information about the event can be found at dalailama. uark.edu.
The university has budgeted about $250,000 for the Dalai Lama’s visit, said Melissa Banks, the university’s director of special events. Ticket sales are projected to provide $150,000, with the remainder coming from Distinguished Lecture Series funds, she said.
The Dalai Lama doesn’t ask to be compensated for his appearances, Banks said.
Security is one of the costliest items within the budget, she said. Other expenditures include the entourage’s air travel, accommodations, meals and ground transportation; printed materials and advertising; a rental fee and staffing for Walton Arena; and staging and production that includes lighting, sound,set design and video.
She said the university will also have to pay for shuttle service to the arena from the free parking area at Baum Stadium, approximately a half-mile south of the arena on South Razorback Road.
Banks said the Dalai Lama’s tightly controlled schedule altered the university’s plans to fete the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
The university planned to hold invitation-only receptions and meals, as it had done with visiting dignitaries in the past. Instead, the Dalai Lama will spend most of his time in his hotel room and eat lunch with his attendants privately at the arena between the panel discussion and his address, Banks said.
The New York-based Office of Tibet, the official agency of the Dalai Lama in the Americas, told the university that the Dalai Lama would not be able to attend events held in the evening, Banks said.
As part of the protocol accompanying the event, the university had to supply the names and birth dates of anyone who would be in close proximity to the Dalai Lama, Banks said.
“Events are a lot different for this,” said Banks, who has headed the university’s special events since 2000. “They didn’t allow us a lot of time to plan anything. In the afternoon, his day ends at 3:30.”
Sidney Burris, a professor of English who was instrumental in drawing the Dalai Lama to Fayetteville, said the 75-year-old maintains a daily monastic schedule.
The Dalai Lama rises at 3:30 a.m., recites prayers and meditates for four to five hours, with a break for breakfast at 5:30 a.m., Burris said. He starts the public part of his day between 8:30-9 a.m. and will retire to his room midafternoon, usually between 3:30-4 p.m. He goes to bed in the early evening, Burris said.
“As he says, he is a simple Buddhist monk,” said Burris, himself a practicing Buddhist. “I think that’s sincere. He isquite happy to spend a number of hours each day at his prayers and meditations.”
The Dalai Lama begins a North American tour today with public talks in southern California, according to the Office of Tibet. He will speak at the University of Minnesota on May 8 and Southern Methodist University in Dallas on May 9.
Burris said the Dalai Lama will arrive in Northwest Arkansas with his party May 10 and head straight to a local hotel. The exact location has yet to be revealed to the university, he said.
He will leave the area May 12 to attend the Newark Peace Education Summit: The Power of Non-Violence, to be held May 13-15 in New Jersey.
The Dalai Lama has been in exile in India since 1959, after tensions between China and Tibet escalated. The Dalai Lama has spent the past 35 years traveling and advocating for Tibetans inside China and Tibetan refugees in India.
The only other ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northwest Arkansas is Geshe Thupten Dorjee, an instructor at the university, Burris said.
Burris said Dorjee is bringing in about 20 Tibetan monks for the week’s activities that precede the arrival of the Dalai Lama. All of them most likely have seen their spiritual leader numerous times in India, he said.
They will be in attendance for his appearances on May 11, as will most of the 15 university students who met the Dalai Lama in the summer of 2009 while recording an oral history project with Tibetan refugees in northern India, Burris said.
Arkansas, Pages 17 on 05/01/2011
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