RE: The presidential debate at the University of Miami

As an alumnus one year removed from my time at the University of Miami, I was an undergraduate at a time in which political interest and action on campus blossomed. When I enrolled in the fall of 1999, not one political organization existed on campus. Five short years later, it is clear to me that UM is among the most politically active campuses in the nation. This “political revolution” reached its pinnacle during the presidential debates.

Undoubtedly, UM gained much prestige in the national stage. From the standpoint of an alumnus, this calls forth great pride for my alma matter, as I never failed to tell my family, friends and co-workers, “Hey, you know the presidential debate is at my University of Miami.” The administration did a fantastic job of making UM appear first rate on television. In addition, the students showed up in force and gave off the impression that they cared about politics. That in itself is deserving of the highest commendation – and for it I thank you, the students.

However, there was one instance where I caught myself thinking, “Did I just hear that?” While watching Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, I witnessed the interview of the president of the College Republicans and Democrats. The president of the College Republicans came across as an articulate veteran with a command of the issues. Alternatively, it pains me to say the president of the Democrats came across as unfamiliar with the issues and prostrating to the “anti-everything” crowd. While upset at this, I understood it was only a minor footnote to the more generally positive fact that UM was on a nationally televised program.

I remain as proud of the University of Miami as the day I graduated and I am sure I speak on behalf of all alumni when I extend a belated thanks to all students, faculty, staff and administration for all pitching in and making the presidential debate at UM an unequivocal success. Hopefully, this success is but one in a string of many in the meteoric rise of our national-caliber university.

Jeffrey Donofrio

Class of 2003

RE: The presidential debate at the University of Miami

It is appalling that in a 7,000-seat convocation center, not all of the 689 students (a relatively small number) that applied could attend the presidential debate. Even more shocking is the fact that there is such a lack of discontent about it!

What students need to realize is that for an entire year, we have been manipulated to believe that this debate is an amazing opportunity for us to get involved in politics. In reality, this debate is more costly to the university than anything else and does not benefit the customers (the students who pay the pricey tuition) at all. We have been placated with all of the “free” events (Grammy artists, Dalai Lama, and other guest speakers) that the University is hosting, but we need to realize that none of this is free! We are paying for every cent of it, and who benefits? The political sycophants, the media, and the very few students who got to attend the actual debate.

In my opinion, students should have been selected via a lottery system. Obviously, students that submitted the applications would be watching the debate on TV and vote anyway! Why not try to select students who are new to politics and get them interested and motivated? This debate is a disappointment to students and is simply another way for Donna Shalala to get her name in lights once more.

Emily Tarleton