Students prepare for debate frenzy at Hofstra campus
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - In the hours leading up the second presidential debate on Oct. 16, students at Hofstra University are gearing up to participate in the action.
“I think this entire process is amazing and getting to experience this firsthand is really great,” Caitlin Spiess, a Hofstra senior and debate volunteer, said.
Her duties include coordinating a discussion panel for students before the debate.
“It’s just such an honor to have a sitting president come to Hofstra, and to have the (former) governor as well. It’s a great thing to have both of them here,” she said.
Julio Villarman, a Hofstra freshman, said the increased media attention on campus has meant new rules for students.
“In the past few days, we’ve been getting notices of no guests in our dorms. We’ve had helicopters patrolling everywhere. I believe we’ve had Secret Service around,” Villarman said. “There are so many people, different organizations everywhere—and camera crews speaking to a lot of students on campus.”
Villarman, who is 17, said he’s frustrated that he won’t be eligible to vote on Nov. 6, but said he would vote for President Barack Obama if he had the chance.
“For the past four years he’s been very strong,” Villarman said. “The first debate that I saw with Mitt Romney—his views, I just don’t agree with them.”
Spiess said that the town hall format for the Oct. 16 debate might force the candidates to focus on issues that matter most to her.
“There’s a very good chance that someone could ask the questions that are most pertinent to me, as opposed to the moderator just asking questions,” Spiess said. “I just think this format is really quite wonderful.”
Spiess said women’s rights is a key issue for her.
Reb Powers, an actress from Sterling, Mass., who graduated from Hofstra in 2009, wandered through crowds dressed as the Statue of Liberty.
Powers said that, when she was a student, the 2008 debate that Hofstra hosted felt like a nuisance and got in the way of her studies.
“When I was on campus, and it was happening, everywhere it was in my face, and I was like, ‘This is kind of annoying at this point. I just want them to get off campus so I can think about what I have to do in school,’” Powers said, pausing to pose for photos. “For this one, I get to really focus on the issues instead of what’s happening around me on campus.”
For Election Day, Powers said she’s made up her mind, but wouldn’t say who she’ll vote for.
“There is one that I’m pushing towards, but I won’t say who—because I’m the Statue of Liberty and I should be impartial.”
Jory Heckman is a print journalism and political science major at Hofstra University. He is currently interning at Scripps Howard Foundation Wire’s Semester in Washington program. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.