Wright State students interviewed Tuesday on campus said they were “shocked and confused” following the university’s decision to withdrawal from hosting the first presidential debate in September.
After WSU President David Hopkins announced the decision, students lingered in the campus student union, checking their phones and discussing the news with friends.
Doug Benedict, a second-year political science student, said he was completely taken off guard by the decision. As a member of student government, he had his peers asking him the same question: “Is this actually happening?”
Benedict said the school has promoted and highlighted the event for months, and Hopkins’ decision was a “letdown, but understandable.”
“I was really looking forward to it; I thought it brought a lot of great publicity to the school,” he said. “Being in the political science program at a school that hosted a debate would bring a little more validity to my degree but it is what it is.”
Hopkins’ message to students was simple: “I know you’re disappointed and I’m disappointed very much for you, but we will not be able to host the debate this year.”
Hopkins said that the university would host other civic engagement events and activities for students related to the debate. But some students still questioned the intent behind the withdrawal.
“I feel like it wasn’t about the safety of the students,” said Evan Haynes, a third-year organizational student and vice president of the Black Student Union. “I feel like it was more about the safety of the candidates.”
Kara Dingess, a fourth-year communications student, said she had worked with a student group that had been planning for the debate for months — all for nothing.
“I’ve been going to meetings since May about the debate festival watch party,” she said. “We’ve been putting a lot of work and effort into this and it’s just fallen apart.”
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