Presidential debate brings with it many headaches, publicity

Nominations are sealed, political season has been cranked up to high gear and the action is coming right to the University of Miami’s doorstep. The first Bush-Kerry Presidential Debate is fast approaching, bringing national and international personalities, politicians, press, and pundits alike. However, with such a grandiose event comes a price to pay.

Beginning with next week’s arrival of the Dalai Lama, UM faculty and students may experience slight delays in various aspects of university life.

Plan accordingly, says Dr. Pat Whitely, vice president of Student Affairs. With advanced notice that will be given to all students, there should be no surprises. As the full impact of the event becomes more apparent, the university is making every effort to supply current information. Administration is acting to ensure that things run as smoothly and safely as possible.

Security will become heavier as the debate nears. Sean McHose, senior, doesn’t appear to be daunted.

“I feel safer,” McHose says, “because security is going to be as tight as Joan Rivers’ eyelids.”

Soon students will be required to wear their ‘Cane Cards at all times as they move about campus. This doesn’t mean in pockets and purses-they need to be visible. In order to make that possible, the university is providing complimentary lanyards at the UC information desk and ‘Cane Card and residence hall offices. Students cannot have any outside guests on campus the week of the debate.

“It’s a great opportunity for UM, so a little inconvenience is good for that,” said Anja Muller, senior.

But commuters and car owners beware: parking and transportation will be greatly affected by the debate and its preceding events. This week, alternate parking has become available by the Lowe Art Museum, creating some additional 350 spots in so-called “green spaces.” This is precursory to the closures of several residential college parking lots and the reassignment of the Pavia garage as “residents only.”

These measures will be in effect from Sept. 27 through 30, though the inconveniences will not be limited to those days. Whitely advises those students who keep a car on campus, but live in the Miami area, to leave the car at home for the week.

The day of the debate, University Station will be closed; Hurry ‘Cane routes will be altered as well, though the number of buses should not be reduced. Also, certain streets will be closed to both vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

Students may want to unlock their bikes or dust off their rollerblades to avoid longer walks to class, perhaps as a substitute workout since the Wellness Center will be closed Monday through Thursday of debate week.

While some, like Nicolas Guillemet, senior, see the debate as a “good promotion for UM,” others have expressed indignation towards the event, noting that UM will suffer the burden as host, but only a select few students will be allowed to experience the debate firsthand.

Still, administration believes that these minimal inconveniences are a small price to pay for the publicity the Presidential Debate will bring the university, not to mention the unique experience that hosting such an event provides.

Despite the many changes and uncertainties that are surfacing, however, one thing is for sure: on Thursday, Sept. 30, all classes will be held as scheduled.

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Courtney Patton can be contacted at