CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) – Washington University is no stranger to hosting presidential debates. The university hosted presidential debates in 1992, 2000 and 2004. Washington University also hosted the Vice Presidential debate in 2008.
“It’s a great opportunity for St. Louis and the University to be right in the middle of something so historic,” said Washington University Associate Vice Chancellor Steve Givens.
Planning for a presidential debate begins one year in advance. Washington University is scheduled to host one of the 2016 debates Sunday, October 9th.
Givens said one of the big challenges is making sure each participant’s team is treated equally. He gives the example of allotted space. He said if one participant receives 800 square feet, other participants should receive the same amount of space.
“We have to able to provide the same kind of same space for everyone.”
Givens said it’s also a challenge to prepare for the unpredictable. For example, it’s not yet clear whether more than two candidates will quality to participate in this year’s debate.
Givens frequently receives questions from other universities wondering if being a host site results in higher student enrollment or bigger donations. He says hosting a debate costs more than the potential windfall, but says the real reason for hosting is for the students the students to be part of something special.
He says students will have the chance to watch national, international and local media. Students can also volunteer to be part of the experience. He said some students have expressed their participation has resulted is a life-changing experience.
For more information about the 2016 presidential debate at Washington University go to Commission on Presidential Debates.