Presidential Debate Host Backs Out Over Safety, Money

The debate was expected to cost Ohio's Wright State University more than $8M
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2016 4:32 PM CDT
Presidential Debate Host Backs Out Over Safety, Money
Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, backed out of hosting the first presidential debate of the general election Tuesday.   (Wright State University)

Ohio's Wright State University was scheduled to host the first presidential debate of the general election Sept. 26—until it announced Tuesday it wouldn't be doing that. “This has been a very difficult decision to make but I am confident that it is the right one,” Politico quotes WSU president David Hopkins as saying. According to Dayton Daily News, Hopkins cited rising costs and security as reasons for pulling out. It was originally expected to cost WSU $3.5 million to host the debate, but that had increased to more than $8 million recently. That price increase comes at a time when WSU is already planning more than $27 million in budget cuts. “Given the financial issues the university is grappling with, from the start this seemed like a kind of dubious proposition,” faculty union president Martin Kich says.

Security was also becoming an issue for WSU. “Over the last few weeks we have had a growing concern over what it would take to guarantee the safety and security of our campus," Politico quotes Hopkins as saying. Unlike private universities that have hosted debates in the past, WSU couldn't legally close its campus to the public during the debate, making security more difficult. WSU will probably lose at least some of the $2.5 million it has already put toward hosting the debate. “I really wanted this experience for our students,” the Daily News quotes Hopkins as saying. The debate will now be held at New York's Hofstra University, which hosted a presidential debate in 2012 and had agreed to be a backup this year, CNN reports. The other two scheduled presidential debates will take place at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. (More presidential debate stories.)

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