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Students express mixed feelings days away from presidential debate

Debate week at Belmont is finally here — and students are feeling everything from excitement to apathy.

“Some are eager to watch, others don’t really care — they just want their lawn back,” said sophomore Tyler Edwards.

While the debate brings a national spotlight to the university, most of Belmont’s students and faculty will be unable to attend or participate in any of the activities.

Edwards said this, combined with the stringent security measures necessitated by the event, lessened his enthusiasm for Belmont’s role as host.

“I was excited for the debate being on campus; however, my excitement dwindled after seeing all the construction as well as finding out students can’t see the debate live,” he said. “I also feel less enthused because we can’t leave our dorms or apartments for two days because of it.”

“Overall I’m glad we’re having the debate — though I am also eager for it to be over with.”

Junior corporate communications major Grace Brown agreed the debate would be difficult for students in the short-term — but overall, she said, it’s worth it for the school.

“I think it’s really important for Belmont to get the exposure it’s going to get from this debate,” Brown said.

For students and local businesses, though, Brown was less sure of the debate’s positive impact, she said.

The crowds of people arriving present concerns for COVID-19’s spread, and local businesses like Proper Bagel are forced to close temporarily due to the event’s sprawling security presence.

And ultimately, Brown said, she’s been given few opportunities to interact with the event directly.

“The primary effect the debate has had on my semester is the fact that we have to go all online for a couple of days,” she said. “I am not benefitting a ton from the debate being on campus.”

For students like Maxwell Caskie, though, eagerness endures through any short-term inconvenience.

“I’m happy we’re hosting it,” said Caskie. “I’m super excited for it.”

The closures and effect on businesses are upsetting to Caskie, he said, but he believed many of the negative effects were out of Belmont’s control — and the positives affirm Belmont’s role as an institution.

“An idea that academia is rooted in, which is, you know, open speech, open deliberation, we should be able to have these discussions, we should be able to have them publicly,” Caskie said.

“It is really something … being that close to history.” 

Contributory reporting by Sean Phelan and Holly Vonder.

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