Even those not lucky enough to see Senators John McCain and Barack Obama when they visit campus for Thursday's ServiceNation Summit may be able to look forward to another high-profile appearance.
Several undergraduate councils, governing boards, and student groups have drafted and approved a "pre-programming proposal" for the event they now call "Columbia University Serves 2008." The proposal encompasses a wish list of ServiceNation-affiliated speakers, including California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife Maria Shriver, actress Angelina Jolie, and singer Usher.
The presidents of the four undergraduate student councils met with administrators yesterday to submit the proposal, which provides for what Columbia College Student Council President George Krebs, CC '09, termed a "glorified Activities Fair," as well as a series of speeches to supplement the presidential candidates' forum.
Also on the list of "service professionals of national interest" under consideration are New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, designer Kenneth Cole, Caroline Kennedy, co-chair of Obama's vice presidential search committee, and Alma Powell, wife of former secretary of state Colin Powell.
Krebs said the school might not know even by Wednesday who will actually speak at the event, as all details surrounding the day have been "last-minute."
Despite general skepticism that Columbia will be able to secure a speaker from the wish list on such notice, Peter Valeiras, SEAS '09 and Engineering Student Council president, said that the student leaders pulled their nominees from the list of individuals already involved with ServiceNation, as per the administration's suggestion.
According to the proposal, Thursday's events will begin at noon, likely on Low Plaza, with student groups managing voter registration, information booths to encourage community service, and bins for canned food donations. In addition to music and an open mic, organizers will set up a photo montage of students involved in community service.
At 6 p.m., planners hope to have an introductory speech by scholarship worker and former Columbia College Dean Roger Lehecka, CC '67, remarks by either Geoffrey Canada or Wendy Kopp as representatives of the local service community, a speech by a nationally known service professional (i.e. from the "wish list"), and a closing by School of Engineering and Applied Science Associate Dean Jack McGourty.
The administrators are in charge of contacting the potential guest speakers, and student leaders are awaiting logistics approvals to move ahead with preparations.
"We're trying to continue the planning, but at this point we've done almost everything we can," Valeiras said. "As of right now I don't see any obstacles."
Krebs agreed that he expected "clear sailing" until Thursday.
"This is going to be very exciting for Columbia," Krebs said, "and the event will reflect that."