High security measures will be taken when the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet arrives at Miami University.
He is scheduled to speak to a sold out crowd in Millett Hall at 2 p.m. Thursday.
The 14th Dalai Lama is both head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his leadership efforts in the non-violent struggle for the liberation of Tibet from China.
The appearance of such a notable religious figure has caused Miami to step up its security measures to ensure his safety.
“The security of the Dalai Lama is of highest priority and attendees will undergo a security screening, including metal detectors and purse searches,” the university said in a message to ticket holders.
No backpacks will be allowed at the event and only laptops that have prior screening and clearance — such as those belonging to media that will undergo special security — can be brought in.
According to Claire Wagner, director of news and public information, small purses are allowed at the event, but they will be searched. Attendees will pass through screening more quickly if they do not carry a purse.
A bag checking service for large bags and backpacks will be held at Withrow Court in the south gym beginning at 11:30 a.m. for students, staff and faculty who cannot leave large bags elsewhere before entering security scanners in Millett Hall.
Student volunteers from Miami club sports teams, along with university staff, will stay with the bags and make the room as secure as possible during the lecture, according to Wagner.
A large amount of security is expected and officers from several departments will be on hand, according to Anthony Azama, marketing director for the Intercollegiate Athletics office at Millett.
“Members of Miami University have been talking to the Dalai Lama’s security,” he said.
Several different members of Miami University Police declined to disclose specific security plans, including officers involved.
Besides backpacks and laptops, other items prohibited during the speech include umbrellas, strollers, cameras, beach balls and firework. Small purses, notebooks, rain ponchos, one unopened bottle of water and a personal camera are allowed inside the event.
The invitation for the spiritual leader of Tibet to speak at Miami has been the topic of conversation for months among students and faculty and has caused mixed reactions.
“I believe it will be a really educational experience,” Spanish Instructor and Learning Specialist Jill Gomez said. “It is the cause for students to learn new things they normally wouldn’t.”
Junior Andy Pickering offered a contrasting opinion.
“I’m personally against it,” she said. “I think there is too great of a potential for problems and conflicts to arise in that kind of atmosphere.”
Although the two may disagree on the arrival of the Dalai Lama, they both agree on the security measures taken.
“Even though I’m against his coming here, I don’t want him to get hurt,”
Pickering said. “Especially at my university, it’s just something you don’t want to happen.”
Gomez also takes security into consideration.
“Any security measures they would typically take for any head of state should be taken,” she said.