Belmont President Bob Fisher announced Wednesday the university has been named an alternate location for the 2016 presidential and vice presidential debates.
The announcement comes after Wright State gave up its debate-hosting privileges and previous alternate Hofstra University moved into its spot.
With four debates scheduled throughout September and October, Belmont would have at most two and half months to transition from alternate to host instead of the full year of preparation the university had when hosting a Town Hall Debate between then Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain in 2008.
“We’ve got a plan and should it be activated, we’ll be prepared. Our plan is to be prepared even beyond the requirements,” Fisher said. “We’ve already spoken with both Mayor Barry and Gov. Haslam, and they’re both totally supportive. Should we be selected, they’d be excited to give us the support we need from a security point of view.”
For Belmont to host a debate, either Hofstra University, Longwood University, Washington University in St. Louis or the University of Nevada – Las Vegas would have to relinquish hosting duties.
Fisher noted there will be no inconveniences to students unless Belmont is needed to host a debate.
“If we are called upon, we’ll be asking for a lot of cooperation from students,” Fisher said. “But my experience from last time is that students were totally cooperative with us. I think they were all so proud of Belmont for hosting the debate, everybody knew they had to give up a little something.”
Fisher said being named an alternate this election cycle builds on the foundation set in 2008.
“It brings a lot of position attention to the university and also it brings a lot of credibility to the university, and all that should translate, I hope, to students’ degrees being worth just a little bit more and Belmont being more highly regarded,” Fisher said.
With or without the debate, Belmont will be promoting student involvement this election season through special programs, watch parties and voter registration drives.
This article was written by Grant Robinson.