This month, students at a Long Island University will get the experience of having President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney come to their school for the second 2012 Presidential Debate.
This school, however, is not Stony Brook University.
Last October, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that Hofstra University had been chosen to hold the debate on Oct 16 of this year. Hofstra also hosted a debate in the 2008 election.
According to James Montalto, media relations manager at SBU, the cost was the main reason that SBU did not apply to hold the debate.
An article in Newsday stated that the cost for the upcoming debate at Hofstra would be approximately $3 million.
A report from ABC News stated that Hofstra spent somewhere between $4-5 million on the 2008 debate. The report also stated that prior to the debate held at Denver University on Oct. 3 the Colorado Department of Transportation anticipated spending between $30,000 and $40,000 on traffic control and barricades for the event.
“While hosting a presidential debate would be an exciting and educational experience for the campus community, to facilitate such an event would expend a tremendous amount of staff, resources and funds that are not within the University’s budget.” Montalto said.
According to a press release from Hofstra, David S. Mack, an alumnus and secretary of the Board of Trustees, has committed to help fund the cost accompanied with hosting the upcoming debate, which will be held in a “town meeting” format in which the candidates answer questions from the audience.
The criteria a college must meet in order to be able to apply to host a debate includes various venue requirements, a large number of parking spaces and location near adequate transposition and hotel facilities. While the expense associated with holding the debates varies, administration at those universities say that the experience the students get out of it exceeds the costs.
“During the last presidential election…students [had] the opportunity to learn from some of our country’s greatest political minds and journalists, to travel to primary sites, or to volunteer or intern with political or media organizations; and it touched students and faculty in almost every academic discipline,” Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra University, said in a press release.
Tickets will be distributed to
students at Hofstra in the days leading up to the debate. Members of the staff and faculty at Hofstra, including Rabinowitz, will not take seats at the event to allow the maximum number amount of students to be able to attend.
The debates, although costly, provide a great deal of media exposure to the schools that host them.
Denver University hosted the first debate of this year’s election and, according to ABC News, expects a 15 percent increase in applications for 2013 as a result of the attention.
“I have always thought SBU could have more of a presence on the national scene in addition to its reputation in science and medicine. Hosting a presidential debate would [have been] great for the image of the University and a wonderful opportunity for our students.” Dr. Wilbur Miller, the faculty adviser for SBU’s Speech and Debate Society, said.
Melissa Farina, a sophomore chemistry major who transferred to SBU this semester, agreed.
“It would have been a good investment for the University. It definitely would have made the students more informed and involved in the upcoming election,” she said.
However, some students agree with the administrations decision to avoid spending the large amount of money required to host a debate.
“Sure, it would have been cool,” Patricia Maglione, a junior marine vertebrate biology major said, “But we need to focus on putting our money into programs we already have at SBU that are struggling, not a one night event, no matter how much publicity it would get us.”