The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday April 2nd

Campus Of_cials Say UNC Debate Unlikely

After this year's scheduled presidential debates, including one at a N.C. school, UNC officials say they have not yet considered the possibility of hosting a debate any time in the future.

Nancy Davis, associate vice chancellor for University relations, said UNC officials did not apply to host a 2000 debate and, to her knowledge, have not applied in the past.

Davis said hosting a debate would require a great deal of money and effort. "It takes a lot of corporate and community support to host an event like that."

The cost of hosting a debate depends on several different factors, such as security and publicity, but according to the Commission on Presidential Debates Web site, the location must raise $550,000 for hosting as well as provide travel costs for visits to the site.

Although UNC could cover these costs, Davis said she would have to weigh the pros and cons before deciding whether the costs would outweigh the University's gains.

But there is no guarantee UNC would be selected even if administrators applied.

Ferrel Guillory, director of the UNC program in Southern politics, media and public life, said the setup of the UNC campus would make it difficult to host such an event. "(Presidential debates) tend to be on small campuses," he said. "Ours is much more sprawling, which presents some logistical issues."

He added that security would be an issue on a public campus like UNC's.

Guillory said hosting the presidential debates only offers one benefit - increased exposure for the school.

"Smaller, private colleges are more in competition for students," he said. "(The debate) gives them a publicity boost."

Guillory said state universities like UNC are not as in need of visibility as schools like Wake Forest University, site of this year's second presidential debate.

According to the Commission on Presidential Debates Web site, sites wishing to host a debate must send in an application by June. The commission then reviews the applications and visits the sites during September and October a year before the debates, and the final decisions are announced in January.

Steve Givens, assistant to the chancellor at Washington University in St. Louis, site of the final presidential debate, said the commission found Washington University adequate in 1992 and granted it the opportunity again in 2000.

Givens said being selected to host a presidential debate takes a combination of characteristics. "Part of it is applying and having the facilities, and part of it is establishing a relationship with the commission," he said.

Givens said the university's primary reason for hosting the debate was for the students. "Overall, students were so happy to have this on campus," he said.

Givens also pointed out that the university benefits from increased visibility, and the community benefits economically from large numbers of people coming to see the debate.

"Traffic is horrible on the day of the debate, parking is impossible . but at the end of the day, (inconveniences) are relatively minor," he said. "It's a very positive experience overall."

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