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2020 vision: Fourth presidential debate not currently in sight for Hofstra

2020 vision: Fourth presidential debate not currently in sight for Hofstra

Past presidential debates at Hofstra have garnered national media attention for the school.

Hofstra University has been at the heart of the last three presidential elections after becoming the only university to have hosted three debates consecutively, but a fourth debate is not in the school’s near future. 

While debate locations for the 2020 season will be announced next month, students and community members should not expect to see Hofstra listed. “We chose not to apply this cycle,” said Karla Schuster, assistant vice president for University Relations. No other details were given at the time of comment. 

“SGA is grateful for Hofstra’s involvement in the Debates for the past three election cycles,” the Hofstra Student Government Association said in a statement to The Chronicle. “We understand the University’s decision and look forward to the great programs, such as Hofstra Votes, that are planned to further engage students politically and civically.”

While Hofstra’s reasons for opting out have not been announced, earlier news reports reveal that the University spent about $5 million on each debate in the past, with a portion of the high costs covering additional local security from the Nassau County Police Department. The University previously received financial assistance from donors to ease the burden. 

“I was a freshman at Hofstra when I had the amazing experience and privilege of attending the 2016 Debate. While some may be disappointed, my fellow Hofstra College Republicans and I are proud that Hofstra made history on the national stage by becoming the first university to host three consecutive presidential debates,” said Peter J. Tarantino, a senior political science major and president of Hofstra College Republicans. “We would like to thank the Commission on Presidential Debates for giving our school the opportunity to do so. The Hofstra College Republicans respect the decision that Hofstra has made to not apply to host a presidential debate for the 2020 election cycle and accept that it is time to pass this amazing experience on to another university.”

Despite Sunday’s news, the Democrats of Hofstra University will continue to advocate for student causes and remain civically engaged. “Although it is disappointing that Hofstra will not be hosting the debate in 2020, hopefully now the administration will put the time and money that would have been spent on debate preparations toward the needs of the student population such as creating a reporting system of discrimination as was outlined by the Jefferson’s Got to Go campaign,” the executive board said in a statement to The Chronicle.

According to the Commission on Presidential Debate’s website, the deadline to submit a proposal to host was April 2, 2019. Potential locations must fulfill a lengthy list of requirements from the Commission, including having: “A debate hall of at least 15,000 square feet that is air conditioned; a large parking area close to the debate hall for 40 television remote trucks, trailers and/or satellite trucks up to 53 feet in length; and nearby hotels that can provide 3,000 rooms for the event.”

Hofstra first entered the debate scene in 2008, when Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) challenged Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Once again crowds gathered in 2012 to watch Obama during his re-election campaign as he was up against Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) on the big stage. In 2016, the first debate between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was originally scheduled to be at Wright State University in Ohio, but Hofstra was called upon after Wright State backed out due to cost and safety concerns. 

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