EUGENE, Ore. — The University of Oregon increased its security in Eugene Friday because of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit.
When crowds arrived at Matthew Knight Arena, they were greeted with a sign listing everything they weren’t allowed to bring inside. The items included everything from large bags and backpacks to posters. Many people going to see the Dalai Lama say they didn’t know about the heightened security until they arrived at the arena.
Along with crowds of people waiting to get into the arena, police and security guards combed the crowd.
“There’s a wide variety of agencies, University of Oregon Police Department is here, Eugene Police Department, and then other agencies both state and federal that are involved,” said Phil Weiler, UO Spokesman.
That’s because the Dalai Lama is a former head of state.
“The State Department provides security for His Holiness, so those are agents who come, I believe, from all over the area,” Weiler said.
The signs outlined what was out of the question to carry in. That included handbags larger than a sheet of notebook paper, and that caught some by surprise.
And there were no exceptions. Each person had to put their handbag into a 9″x11″ box before going through medal detectors.
The university says the tragedy in Boston was in the back of their minds as they planned security details for the Dalai Lama’s visit.
“The recent issues that we saw across the country around security and safety heightened the need for us to be making sure we’re doing everything we can to make this as safe an event as possible,” Weiler said.
With a crowd this size, people heading inside say they didn’t mind the long security lines.
“I didn’t expect it, but I’m glad because I feel good. It seems like just the kind of place that someone would want to come and hurt people, so I feel safe and glad that they’re doing it,” said Eugene resident Cindy Zarzycki.
The university says it had officers both in and outside of the arena during the entire speech.