Columbia plans to remain open during G8/NATO summits

By Heather Scroering

While Chicago is buzzing about the G8 and NATO summits that will lock down much of the South Loop from May 1–21, Columbia plans on staying open.

The G8 and NATO summits, taking place at McCormick Place, 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, are expected to attract more than 7,000 delegates and staff, as well as 2,500 journalists from across the globe, according to Jennifer Martinez, press secretary for the Chicago G8 and NATO Host Committee. Though activity from the summits may affect the Loop, Columbia plans to function as usual.

“Right now, we are operating on a ‘business-as-usual’ basis and plan on conducting normal operations during that time,” said Bob Koverman, associate vice president of Campus Safety and Security. “We will continue to monitor the situation and remain in close communication with government agencies.”

Columbia had no further comments on the issue at this time.

Though the summits may not affect the college while they are occurring, they have already affected the spring 2012 semester.

Several explanations were given for the final verdict of the spring semester changes. The college felt that hotel rooms would be hard to book, and the city would be difficult to navigate with the high

security measures.

According to Derrick Golden, assistant to the special agent in charge of the United States Secret Service, the Secret Service is working with the city to devise a safety plan to avoid chaos.

The strategy will likely be released two to four weeks before the summits, Golden said. A security plan will be finalized when all of the official venues for summit events have been decided upon, according to an email from Golden that was sent to local and national media outlets.

“Information relating to security measures that could potentially impact the general public, such as road closures and parking restrictions, will be released when [venue] details have been finalized,” Golden said in the email.