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Universities Prepare For Debates

This story was written by Taylor Hill, Daily Mississippian

As the University of Mississippi continues to prepare for the 2008 presidential debate in September, Hofstra, Washington and Belmont universities are also undergoing the same process for the second and third presidential debates.

The chosen universities are either planning events through student organizations or consulting students by faculty committees, as Hofstra University in New York, the site of the third presidential debate, has done.

The events were decided upon by a committee of faculty members, Hofstra Universitys vice president of university relations Melissa Connolly said. Students were pulled in and consulted when appropriate.

Hofstra is sponsoring a program known as Educate 08 Web site which offers different classes, symposia and lectures to students.

The Educate 08 program was also designed to reach out to the surrounding community and get them involved in the excitement of the debate, she said.

According to the Educate 08 Web site, Hofstra is offering a variety of debate-related courses for its students, including a history course focusing on whether or not a woman could be elected as president and a drama class teaching debate as a performance art.

The Educate 08 lists the different symposia and lectures Hofstra offers along with lecturers and hosts ranging from former presidential nominee John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth to former U.S. Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Paul ONeill.

Washington University in St. Louis, the only campus with previous experience in hosting this type of event, is preparing to host the 2008 vice presidential debate Oct. 2.

Theres lots of excitement on campus, Washington Universitys vice chancellor of university relations said.

Washington is also providing classes for students this fall relating to the debate.

We have an American culture studies course focusing on the presidency, Givens said.

Washington Universitys Web site features a calendar of events surrounding the debate, and student organizations are given the opportunity to help plan the events surrounding the debate. Events such as a campus-wide voter registration and a panel discussion with political experts are focused on engaging and educating the students, according to the Web site.

The university has also included a mock election for international students to participate in.

The fact the debate is not a presidential debate has not affected the planning or programming at Washington University, Givens added.

Belmont University in Nashville is the host of the second presidential debate on Oct. 7.

According to Belmont Universitys debate Web site, the university is also sponsoring events relating to the debate.

Belmonts first debate-related event will take place the Wednesday before the debate. Along with Country Music Television and the organization Headcount, Belmont will host a battle of the bands competition.

The Web site also said Belmont has also planned public viewing of episodes from the political drama The West Wing with discussions to follow.

Andy Mullins, executive assistant to the chancellor at the University of Mississippi, said the National Debate Commission confirmed Ole Miss has the most debate-related activities planned in comarison to the other universities.

-- Alex McDaniel contrbuted information to this story.