While millions of Americans are watching the Sept. 26 presidential debate on their televisions and digital devices, a handful of Wright State students will have a coveted seat inside the actual debate hall, where they will experience the historic matchup between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton in person.
“I’m going to get to experience the debate firsthand so I can actually get the vibe and the full picture, instead of just the parts you see on television,” said Eric Whitt, a sophomore studying electrical engineering.
When Wright State decided not to host the Sept. 26 presidential debate due to security concerns and mounting costs, the event moved to the alternate site, Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz contacted Wright State President David R. Hopkins and offered 15 tickets to help ease students’ disappointment.
Fifteen names were drawn from all the Wright State students who had applied for the debate ticket lottery or offered to volunteer, when the debate was going to be held at Wright State’s Nutter Center. More than 1,800 students had applied for the ticket lottery and 630 had offered to volunteer.
But before setting off for the whirlwind three-day trip to New York, the lucky Wright State students met for a photo to say thank you to Hofstra University for sharing some of its tickets with Wright State. They are looking forward to being in the middle of all the debate excitement on the Hofstra campus and will even get to meet with Hofstra students and participate in debate-related festivities.
Donna Schlagheck, retired chair of the Department of Political Science who escorted numerous Wright State Model UN teams to New York City, will accompany the group and take them to many New York sites, including the 9/11 Tribute Center. She will be joined by Debbie Kimpton, director of executive office operations, who helped plan the trip. Michael Bridges, chair of Wright State’s Board of Trustees, will travel to New York as well.
The students also expressed sincere thanks to the donors who are covering hotel, food and airline expenses.
“I’m thrilled beyond belief,” said Laura Poole, who is majoring in studio art with a minor in French. “I’ve loved politics since I was a kid in high school. We watched both conventions, and we follow all this very, very closely.”
Students going to the debate are:
Ramasiva Sai Alagala, electrical engineering, graduate student
Christina Borchers, medicine
Rebecca Brinkman, nursing
Florencia Calo, accountancy
Robert Foshee, mechanical engineering, graduate student
Dominic Giannuzzi, financial services
Silas Martinez, human factors/industrial psychology, doctoral student
Lindsay Meinders, middle childhood education, graduate student
Kayli Modell, acting
Laura Poole, art
Chelsea Stewart, nursing
Eric Whitt, electrical engineering
Emily Whittaker, communication studies
Terrence Williams, economics
David York, supply chain management