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USF to host Florida U.S. Senate debate

In an effort to bring a political atmosphere to USF, Student Government (SG) has partnered with CNN and the St. Petersburg Times to host a live, nationally televised Florida U.S. Senate debate at the University Oct. 24.

Ken Getty, SG chief of staff, said the debate will be held in Theatre I and a “debate watch” will be offered on campus in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) Ballroom, where students and the general public will be able to view it on a live feed.

Getty said that students have a chance to win tickets for the event through a student lottery.

“The lottery is only open to USF students and accessible only through their USF NetID and password,” he said. “A link to enter the lottery is active now on SG’s Facebook, Twitter and website.”

Getty said that this debate has been an early initiative in student body President Cesar Hernandez and Vice President Spencer Montgomery’s “vision” for their term as student body representatives, and the key to its success was “contacting
the different campaigns” early so they could “access the different candidates.”

“As of right now, there’s only one other senate debate that we know of, and that’s in Fort Lauderdale,” Getty said. “There’s no other debate like this in our region.”

While the format of the debate has “yet to be determined,” Getty said, CNN representatives will conduct a walk-through of USF’s facilities Sept. 2. Once that happens, he said they will have a better idea of how everything will look in October.

However, Getty said that SG is “pushing” for a student to be allowed to ask a question or for the possibility of a student moderator – a way for USF to remain prominent at the debate.

“We’ve been working in partnership with the president’s office,” Getty said. “We commend them for believing and trusting in us to host this.”

Getty said SG has “pledged $6,000” for the event. University spokesman Michael Hoad said the University would incur the rest of the cost, which is estimated to be about $10,000 to $12,000.

Hoad said the Times initially contacted him about hosting a candidate debate, and he directed the paper to SG.

Since then, Hoad said that “the administration is delighted that SG is there” and “the real work is being done by SG.”

“To make it successful, we need student involvement,” he said. “It’s the students that make it special.”