Wright State has backed out of hosting a presidential debate this fall citing concerns over cost and security.
Inside Higher Ed reports.
A Costly Debate
CLEVELAND — Colleges have long angled to play host to presidential election events, both to create educational opportunities for their students and to get publicity. A more cautious approach is emerging amid this unusual election, however.
Wright State University on Tuesday pulled out of hosting the first presidential debate of the general election, citing security and financial concerns. And several campuses here were quiet as nearby institutions scaled back their operations, largely due to worries about safety.
“This is a very difficult decision,” said David Hopkins, Wright State’s president. “But there has been a growing crescendo of concern about what it would take to guarantee the safety and security of the campus and the community. The expense would be daunting.”
Wright State, which is located in Dayton, Ohio, was to host the first of four debates. But cost estimates for the event had grown from $3.5 million to more than $8 million, which Hopkins said was too much for the public research university.
Security worries during the heated election were a key driver of those estimates, according to the university. And Hopkins said Wright State, as a public university, would not have been able to restrict public access to its campus for safety during the debate as could a private institution. Hofstra University, a private university located on New York’s Long Island, will instead host the Sept. 26 debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Officials at Wright State did their homework before deciding to host the debate. They reached out to 11 colleges that had been home to previous presidential debates, the Dayton Daily News reported.
They heard a clear consensus that a debate, while expensive, was well worth it given the exposure colleges received. Students got a chance to experience a high-profile exercise in democracy at those institutions, which in some cases saw a boost in applications and fund-raising, Wright State learned in those interviews.
Wright State U drops presidential debate while some Cleveland campuses take precautions (Inside Higher Ed | News)