September 26, 2016 is a day that will be marked in history forever: it was the first debate of the 2016 elections between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This day hits home for me because my school, Hofstra University, hosted it. If that is not historical enough, Hofstra is now the first university to ever host a debate in three consecutive election cycles.
Hofstra’s campus seemed like a movie-set leading up to and during the debate, with equipment, extra security measures and people everywhere. As a student, I noticed these changes first hand and really got to take in everything going on around campus.
Hofstra planned an array of panels, discussions and performances leading up to debate day. For example, Larry Wilmore gave political comedy the Saturday before the debate and the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication hosted a panel of alumni covering the election. There were special tapings with the television networks as early as 4 a.m. so students could be on camera during the day and viewing parties at night. Hofstra made sure we were involved!
I have never seen Hofstra’s campus so crowded. It was packed with people building stages and setting up extra lights, cameras and other technology prior to the debate. However, on debate day, campus may as well have been a circus. There were engineers, technicians, media, volunteers, staff, vendors and so many more all there for the same reason.
Rumor has it that the secret service was on campus weeks before the debate, which would not surprise me. There were extra cameras set up around campus a few days before the debate. During the weekend prior to the debate, Hofstra students were not allowed to have overnight guests, unless they were other Hofstra students. The day of the debate, you better have been a law enforcement official, or had your student or staff I.D. or credentials to get anywhere more than from a dorm to the student center. Roads were closed all around campus and entry ways were guarded and blocked.
How did people get on campus on debate day? You either needed to arrive on campus early in the morning before security amped up or park at Eisenhower park, which is right around the corner from campus. There was a shuttle bus provided for the media that ran between Eisenhower Park and Hofstra’s campus.
The list of changes around campus could go on forever. However, the energy around campus and pride felt were by far the best things created by the presidential debate.