The opportunities on campus for the first presidential debate of 2016 benefitted numerous students, however commuters had a more difficult experience as they dealt with road closures and limited parking. For most commuters, these two problems were the main reasons why they choose to stay home.
Prior to and during the debate, Public Safety worked to accommodate students and staff including sending reminders and coordinating parking.
“We notified people in advance of the debate that there would be parking lot closures ... we offered students and staff the opportunity to park at Mitchell Field and take a Hofstra shuttle to the campus,” said Lynda O’Malley, assistant director of Public Safety. “We sent an email to the Hofstra community the weekend prior to the debate reminding everyone about upcoming road closures and parking requirements.”
Around noon, Hempstead Turnpike and other main roads were closed by the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD) to ensure safety for the Hofstra community and its guests. For commuters, these road closures affected their normal route.
Jonathan Valerio, the president of the Commuter Student Association, had a positive outlook on the parking and driving arrangements.
“I had a very newfound experience with all of the side roads I could take to get to Hofstra University. I think they did a very good job notifying and warning people of what different types of parking lots were going to close,” Valerio said. “Unfortunately, a lot of Hofstra students don’t check their emails so when they find out at the last second that the parking lots are going to close they try and scramble which is never a good idea. You can’t really blame Public Safety on that one.”
Since North Campus was closed for the activities and media, all of the commuters and faculty were forced to park on the south side of campus, which was heavily policed by security officials. Here IDs were checked to ensure that only Hofstra students, faculty and invited guests could obtain a parking space. Still, just getting onto South Campus was hard for some.
“It was tough … I had to ask for directions and got lost for a bit, before I even got to the point where they checked my ID,” said John Hovestadt, a freshman mechanical engineering major.
Some commuter students who wanted to participate in the activities around the debate but also wanted to avoid road closures came to campus over the weekend. Even then, the security presence was high and access to campus was limited.
“There were so many people, very high security and a lot of parking lots closed thanks to the [media]. It was kind of hard to get around and in. I did get to meet Jill Stein though, which was nice I guess,” said freshman Ryan Leighton.
Other commuter students spent the night with a residential student so they would not have to worry about getting a spot on debate day.
Those commuters who decided not to come to campus on Monday claimed they didn’t want to involve themselves in the inevitable traffic and parking issues.
“I knew that the roads were going to be closed and all that so I kind of got lazy and thought that I would rather just not deal with the traffic,” said Maria Garcia, a freshman engineering major.
Hofstra encouraged commuters to participate in the events and volunteering around the debate. Roberto Hernandez, a senior marketing major, was lucky enough to volunteer as an usher in the debate hall and wasn’t too bothered by the traffic changes.
“I just parked myself in the HofUSA parking lot on Sunday and I didn’t really have any other issues after that,” he said.
Diana Iscenko, a freshman biology major wasn’t bothered either. “I don’t really think I missed anything by not living here except everyone was up at like 4 in the morning,” she said. “I don’t really know what that was, but I was kind of glad I missed that because I like to sleep.”