Make Hofstra host the debate again
Hofstra University recently announced that it would not be applying to host a presidential debate as it has done in the past. This is a terrible decision and I am infuriated that the University has decided to do this. And the fact that they haven’t explained their reasoning is disrespectful to every student at our university.
For starters, this choice makes no sense, especially when we recall that Hofstra has been pouring countless amounts of time, effort and money into its Hofstra Votes campaign that President Rabinowitz launched last year. If the University wants students to be involved in the democratic process, why not bring that process to the students in the form of a presidential debate?
Having the future leader of the free world at this school will do more for its cause than any amount of tabling or photos of Kate and Willie Pride in stars-and-stripes basketball jerseys could. Hofstra has done it for three consecutive elections, after all. Keep the ball rolling. But instead, it’s doing what every basic Tinder bro does – it’s launching a podcast.
Not to mention that the debates are one of the only reasons people outside of the tri-state area know of Hofstra. I transferred to Hofstra because my high school friend, Sophie, posted a picture on Instagram of her working at the debate. Prior to that, I had never heard of the place. But seeing that post sold me on Hofstra being the place where I could launch my future as a journalist; what an opportunity to be present for one of the most important events in our democracy! Truly a once in a lifetime event, that now won’t be experienced again.
All who watched the 2016 debate between Hillary Clinton and President Donald Trump saw the beginning of the end of a year-and-a-half long, divisive, corrosive and destructive process that greatly altered our country and the students at the University had a front row seat. They got to watch Jill Stein get escorted off campus after trying to “Ocean’s 8” her way onto the stage. That’s incredible. But now it’s gone, and no one knows why. The University’s statement to The Chronicle was brief: “We chose not to apply this cycle,” said Karla Schuster, the assistant vice president for University Relations. That was it. The whole statement. They just weren’t feeling it this time.
Why the University is so inclined on keeping its students in the dark on this massive decision is beyond me. It has suspicious vibes and will lead to speculation and unfound conclusions: University admissions rates are down again, the school just finished constructing another face lift to the Student Center and have more plans for further development of the south side of campus and to top it all off, they just finished renovating the $35 million Frank G. Zarb School of Business. According to The Chronicle, each debate costs the University roughly $5 million to put on. Maybe the University wants to invest its assets internally into its academic (and cosmetic) offerings. That’s great, but it should be communicated. We go here. We pay for this. We should be allowed to know what it is we’re paying for and why. Sure, we won’t agree on most things, but we will at least feel respected in knowing why decisions are being made.
I must admit that some of my frustrations with this decision are selfish. On the day I returned to Hofstra from my home state of Washington, I was lying in my dorm room bed and noticed a painful lump above my right clavicle. About a month later I was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Two weeks later, I flew back home to start chemotherapy. Unfortunately for me, Hofstra’s tuition refund deadline is February 23; students can only get 25% of tuition refunded unless they apply earlier, and I was diagnosed on the 26th. I left school with 38% of the semester complete, 100% of my tuition gone, no partial credits and a lot of cancer, and I would now be graduating in the spring of 2021 rather than the spring of 2020. The silver lining here was that I would at least get to see and cover what will no doubt be one the most impactful events in American electoral history. An event that would cover massive topics such as climate change, income equality, socialism, domestic terrorism and whatever the hell is happening to our relationships with Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan and Russia; perhaps they’ll bring up those concentration camps (if there’s time, Lester Holt can mention how likely it is that we’re going to get shot by a classmate or coworker now), and decide the fate of the Democratic and Republican parties as they head into the 2020s.
That silver lining is now gone, replaced by a big Starbucks. They sure don’t have those where I’m from (which is, again, Washington. More specifically, Seattle).