Last week, we planned today’s editorial to be a compilation of everything that went wrong on campus while we hosted the first presidential debate.
Today, we find ourselves at a loss of things to say.
The parking situation was not as bad as we had expected. Many students were surprised that they had no major difficulty in finding a parking spot the day of the debate. Furthermore, the shuttles worked efficiently (despite the trek to get to the Flipse Building) so that even when parking far away from class, students were able to make it to places like Memorial without much of a hassle.
The security on campus was also less intrusive than we had imagined it would be. Nobody doubted that security personnel were around – it was hard to miss the packs of officers cycling on San Amaro Drive or the blockades on Ponce de Leon Blvd. – but we didn’t feel like our rights were infringed upon or like we were being harassed. We felt safe, and the security officers were endlessly courteous; it was nice to be treated as “Sir” or “Ma’am,” even if for just one day.
Granted, not all the students that applied to go to the debate were able to get seats. Having classes made it difficult to attend special events, like the live broadcasts from CNN and MSNBC. The debate watch party was overcrowded, creating a long line to get food.
The point is, so many people were caught up in the midst of the excitement for the debate that the debate party was overcrowded. At UM. On a Thursday night. During midterm week. And students stayed even after the free food was gone.
Last week, UM was truly a political campus.
The UC Breezeway exuded excitement in anticipation of the presidential face-off. There was an invigorating buzz as students vehemently argued over political issues and the presidential candidates before and after the debate. After a series of hurricanes and the thrill over the start of the football season – both of which ranked as our top priorities this semester – the presidential campaign was suddenly revived and reenergized at UM.
Like a bunch of little kids, we were giddy over meeting political, media and wrestling celebrities. We had opportunities to escort Rudy Giuliani; drive Anderson Cooper; talk to Paul Begala and Chris Matthews after Crossfire and Hardball, respectively; and mingle with Ralph Nader in the UC. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Now that the debate has come and gone, our goal as a student body and as a university should be to continue being the interested, passionate, informed students we were on Sept. 30. Being active citizens involves more than being excited for a debate and voting on Election Day (although those are certainly important aspects of it). Being involved means following what our politicians do once they are elected. Our interest should not be a once-every-four-years phenomenon.
Now all we need to worry about is that if Sen. John Kerry wins the election, we might lose the college president that brought the debate to our campus, as some commentators and speakers hinted at last week.
For UM’s sake, maybe we should all be rooting for Bush…