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Hundreds shut out of speech criticize event planning

It isn't basketball season, but Friday afternoon hundreds of people crowded the lawns of Krzyzewskiville anyway.

They were not able to enter the at-capacity Wilson Recreation Center for former Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech at the dedication of Rubenstein Hall.

"Don't blame me, I'm not the fire marshal," Powell said, acknowledging the people looking through Wilson's back glass windows.

While those shut out of the gym did not blame Powell, they were critical of the University's administration and the overall planning process for the touted speech event.

Junior Matthew Levy noted that the student body is often labeled as apathetic, yet when students came out in droves for Powell's speech they were turned back.

"If they can handle basketball games and coordinate wristband distribution... can't they do it for the former secretary of state?" Levy said.

Officials set up loudspeakers outside of Wilson so the disgruntled crowd could hear the speech.

A common criticism was the selection of Wilson as the venue for the event. Students suggested other facilities would have been better options.

Minutes before the speech began, a University official addressed the burgeoning crowd in an effort to explain the space constraints.

Wallace Wade Stadium was ruled out because of concerns about the weather, and Cameron Indoor Stadium had regular basketball practice at the time, the official said.

Page Auditorium was the site of Body Rock cabaret, which took place at 7 p.m. Friday.

"They have the capacity to do better than that," said Steven Spoel, a fourth-year doctorate student in biology, said of planning for Powell's speech.

Some of those shut out suggested that the organizers of the event could have predicted such a high turnout.

"Given his stature and given the interest of the public in his perspective on international relations and defense, Duke might have anticipated an overflow crowd," said Betty Faucette, who is a Durham resident and also a member of the Duke Institute of Learning and Retirement.

Sandra Peters, special event coordinator and building manager for the Sanford Institute of Public Policy, did not respond to requests for comment.

Tiffany Webber contributed to this story.