ST. LOUIS — Washington University in St. Louis officials say the experience and national attention are benefits of hosting a presidential debate despite the high financial costs.
The university is set to host presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the debate on Oct. 9. This will be Washington University’s fifth time hosting a debate.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/2d8wdTc ) reports that the total cost of the event, including supplies, security, technology and labor, is about $5 million.
Washington University debate chairman Steve Givens said the true lasting value of hosting the event comes from the student and faculty experience. He also said the university’s name has been mentioned numerous times since the end of the first debate, giving the school invaluable attention.
“Media arrive next week, and CNN, MSNBC and Fox News will set up on (campus),” Givens said. “Some of them will meet our students, faculty doing research in political science (and other disciplines). We certainly get a bang for our buck.”
Student groups will host debate-themed events, art exhibits and more. In the coming days, crews at Washington University start construction on an 8-foot tall fence that will be part of what Givens calls a “secure perimeter.” Fraternity members were also given a heads up from the university that the Secret Service will be walking through their houses next week when the fence perimeter is secured.
“They told us in an email that they’re coming in with dogs, looking for hidden persons and any hidden explosives or things of that sort,” Kappa Sigma fraternity member Gordie Rohrbach said. Despite the high security though, Rohrbach said he’s excited about the debate, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Out of the thousands of students who submitted their names to the university’s debate ticket lottery, several hundred will be chosen at random to show up on the day of the debate for their chance to win. Givens said the university won’t know how many tickets it can give to students until the day of the debate, but he guessed it will be at least 100.
To Givens, this debate doesn’t feel any different than the last. He said he’s “not surprised by anything anymore.
“I have said over and over that I’m really glad I’m not doing this for the first time,” Givens said, this being his fourth debate. “You don’t know what you don’t know, and you go crazy wondering what it’s going to be like. Then it happens.”
Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com