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How the debate will impact campus access, nearby roads

Belmont is a mere few days from hosting its second presidential debate – but for students, inviting a national spotlight will mean road closures, restricted campus access and strict security measures for the next several days.

“A certain amount of inconvenience and disruption comes with the territory of hosting an event this significant,” said John Carney, vice president of marketing and communications, in an email.

The details of such disruptions were shared last week via multiple emails and a press conference held Friday. The most significant changes are summarized below.

Monday and Tuesday, all campus buildings will only be accessible to students, faculty and staff with a key card. A Belmont ID will be necessary for students to access any campus buildings.

All academic buildings, with the exception of the McAfee Concert Hall, will be accessible in this way, and classes taking place in McAfee have been relocated for the week.

Also starting Monday, the lawn area in front of Belmont Mansion will be closed for the week.

Parking will be impacted as well, with the Bunch Library and Leu Center for the Visual Arts parking lots inaccessible to students and faculty.

The Johnson and Curb parking garages, as well as P4-P5 of the Baskin garage, will also be closed to students starting 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Students currently parked in a to-be restricted parking garage must relocate their vehicles before the closures occur. To drive into the accessible garages — Ayers, Inman/McWhorter and P1-P3 of Baskin — students will be required to show their student ID.

Starting Wednesday, all classes will move to an online format. While key card access will work for non-residential students until Thursday night, students are advised to avoid campus if at all possible.

Wednesday is also when Metro Police-enforced road closures will start, with some beginning at noon and others at 6 p.m.

At noon, the following roads will close:

  1. Acklen Avenue between 17th Avenue South and 18th Avenue South

  2. Belmont Boulevard from Delmar Avenue to 18th Avenue South

  3. Compton Avenue from 15th Avenue South to Belmont Boulevard

At 6 p.m., the following roads will close:

  1. 11th Avenue South from Ashwood Avenue to Wedgewood Avenue

  2. Acklen Avenue between 14th Avenue South and 15th Avenue South

  3. Caldwell Avenue between 12th Avenue South and 15th Avenue South

  4. Delmart Avenue from 15th Avenue South to Belmont Boulevard

On Thursday, the day of the debate, students will not have access to most spaces on campus. Residential students have been or will be told where they can go on campus, which will include their residence halls and certain interior spaces.

On Friday, all impacted roads are to reopen before rush hour, and campus building access will slowly be restored.

The following monday, “campus should be back to normal operating status,” Carney said.

Despite any short-term inconveniences, university President Dr. Bob Fisher expressed his excitement about the event at a press conference last Friday.

“We are committed to hosting this vital event,” said Fisher. “We believe it’s our responsibility, as an institution of higher education, to host events like this.”

“It’s our duty, we believe.”

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