Classes to be held on debate day much to the dismay of students

On Sept. 30, the first 2004 Presidential Debate will be held at the University of Miami. Classes will go on as usual, despite some major adjustments in parking and security being made at school for the debate.

Professors have different methods as to how they will handle their classes during the debate.

“We’re all at a loss here,” German Professor Michael Davidson-Schmich says about the UM decision to keep classes open. “The University has done a bad job communicating this to the students, and it’s going to be very inconvenient, especially for commuter students.” Davidson-Schmich plans to continue his classes as usual.

“I’m obligated under contract to teach,” Davidson-Schmich says. “It’s still an unexcused absence, but I’d still be lenient and help my students out.”

Cyndi White, professor of English, will take a different approach. “[The Debate] will be a ‘Library Day’ for my students,” says White, who did the same for the Dalai Lama’s visit to campus. Even though she can’t officially cancel class, what White is offering is tantamount to a “Get Out of Class Free” card. She disagrees with the decision to keep classes open.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event,” White says. “Students worked hard to be able to see the Dalai Lama, and even harder to be able to attend the debate, so why shouldn’t they get to go?”

Student reaction has been mixed.

Rasheed Al-Marri, junior, says he’d rather go to class.

“I don’t care much for the debate, as I’m not an American,” Al-Marri says.

Jeff Conrad, sophomore, agrees with the University’s decision.

“I always like classes being cancelled, it’s a nice break. I can see why they’re going ahead, though, seeing how we fell behind during the hurricane,” Conrad says. “I’d much rather have classes flow continuously than have to play catch-up later.”

Commuter students, however, are already dreading the debate day.

“It’s very inconvenient,” Kamilah Chajin, sophomore, says. “Parking is going to be horrible, because they’re restricting commuter parking, so I have to park far away from where any of my classes are, and I can’t go back to my car to get my books in between classes.”

Many students agree, however, that the debate coming to UM is a good thing despite the inconveniences it’ll bring.

“I’m glad the debate came to Miami,” Conrad says. “How many people can say the Presidential Debate was held at their school?”

Jay Rooney can be contacted at