Debate volunteers learn meaning of flexibility, help UM shine

At the first debate volunteer training session, Dr. Pat Whitely, Vice President of Student Affairs, welcomed us and warned that “the theme of these debates will be flexibility.” To be completely honest, I think we were all worried hearing those words.

But as the days went on, we realized that the word “flexibility” was used in the most positive sense, and we were all there to help each other out.

Wearing “the red shirt,” as many called it, was not what we were all about. We were about community and family. We were a family that assisted each other when help was needed, who pulled together for UM.

My specific job as a debate volunteer was to ride on the media shuttles from the credentialing area, where security clearance was received, to the Wellness Center, where all the media was staged.

“The experiences that I gained from volunteering for the Debate were truly priceless.”

I was the first volunteer the media shuttle bus saw first thing Monday morning at 8 a.m. Riding the shuttles allowed me to learn others’ views on the election other than my own. One of the shuttle drivers, Lewis, expressed his desire “to get George W. out of the White House” very poetically for about an hour.

It was great to be recognized on campus by an ABC news reporter who I assisted when he used the shuttle due to the rain. He thanked me once again for my assistance and help.

As a political science major, it was beyond thrilling for me to place myself in situations that would enable me to be in arm’s reach with people I have followed for a long time.

People like Chris Matthews, Paul Begala, Judy Woodworth, Pat Buchanan and Wolf Blitzer walked around campus covering the most important presidential campaign of our lifetime.

The experiences that I gained from volunteering for the Debate were truly priceless. Never again will I be able to help UM shine so brightly in such an international light, or meet such a great group of people willing to help each other out.

Meghan Risser can be contacted at