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Hofstra Students Chosen By Lottery To Potentially Attend Debate

This story was written by Samuel Rubenfeld, The Chronicle

HofstraUniversity held a lottery onOct. 7to choose 250 potential ticketholders for the Oct. 15 presidential debate on campus.

The debate, to be held at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex (the Arena), will feature Barack Obama and John McCain facing off in their final debate before election day, on Nov. 4.

"Nearly 6,800 students applied for the lottery," said Sandra Johnson, vice president for Student Affairs. "The names were chosen at random by a computer lottery system," she said.

"Everyone [chosen or not] was notified by 8 p.m. Tuesday night," Johnson said.

Every student who entered the lottery received an e-mail from the Student Affairs office notifying them of their status. "Congratulations, you have been selected to be in the pool of potential debate ticket holders," began the e-mail for those who won.

But the 250 chosen in the lottery don't necessarily all get to sit in the debate hall, Johnson said. That depends on how many tickets the Commission on Presidential Debates issues the University for hosting the debate, and on other factors as well.

Those chosen have to come to the Student Affairs office by Thursday and present a government-issued photo ID, a voter registration number, contact information and sign a waiver allowing the Secret Service to perform a background check. For those observing the Jewish holiday, Johnson said the office would allow them to come in Friday.

Upon signing the waiver, the Student Affairs office sends the students' information to the Secret Service, who has to credential each person.

And then the potential ticket-holders wait.

If a student in the pool is not a registered voter, or is not approved by Secret Service, their name is simply taken off the list, not to be replaced.

Students who won the chance for a ticket were thrilled. "I'm freaking excited," said Krissy Anicito, a sophomore biology major from New Jersey who made the final 250.

"Once the Commission says how many to distribute, then we start calling [students]," Johnson said. "We won't know how many [tickets we receive] until at least Tuesday afternoon. If we get 50 tickets, we call [numbers] one through 50 on our list."

There are about 900 total seats in the Arena, two-thirds of which go to the Obama and McCain campaigns, and their respective party committees. The Commission holds the final third, and they decide how many to issue the host site.

Those that didn't make the cut were not pleased, but they were also not angry. "I would've liked to go, but I didn't get my hopes up," said Eric Sassu, a freshman biology major.

"The fact that it's here is cool enough," said Ryan Finn, a freshman film and TV major.

For anyone who did not win the opportunity to sit in the debate hall, there are multiple DebateWatch parties on campus: the Student Center Theater, the Main Dining Room of the Student Center, the Netherlands Caf and Hofstra USA are all open to students and faculty, while Monroe Lecture Hall is open to the community, with the Adams Playhouse available as an overflow.

"The whole point of this was to bring the issues to students," Johnson said. "I think we've done that."

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