The Commission on Presidential Debates will be on campus November 28 to evaluate the University as a potential site for a debate between the 1996 presidential or vice-presidential candidates. And student leaders are teaming up to clinch the University's spot among the four finalists. Representatives from the Undergraduate Assembly, College Republicans and the Student Activities Council met yesterday with University Associate Secretary Sue Jacobson to increase student involvement in the effort. Last month, the University was chosen as one of 10 finalists for the events. Three institutions will host presidential debates on either Sept. 25, Oct. 2 or Oct. 16, 1996, and a fourth school will host the vice presidential candidates on Oct. 9, 1996. Jacobson said last night that students will definitely play a role in the process, although the details of their actions are yet to be determined. Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs Carol Scheman said the student groups are considering two projects -- getting a petition signed and planning for the November 28 visit of Janet Brown, executive director of the commission. But UA Chairperson and College senior Lance Rogers said last night that the idea of a petition "has been scrapped" because there is not enough time to gather signatures due to Thanksgiving break. "We only have this week to work with and that's it," he said. "We thought we could do a better job by focusing on the actual day [Brown] will be here." At Sunday's UA meeting, the body discussed several ideas on how to impress the commission with the University's spirit. Proposals ranged from placing posters on Locust Walk to hanging flags from on-campus fraternity houses. Rogers said the groups are also considering holding a rally in the Annenberg Quadrangle to demonstrate student support for the debate. He added that they create a slogan for stickers that they will "slap on people as they walk into the Annenberg Quad." And the Penn Band might even play at the rally during Brown's visit, Rogers said. The groups will submit a budget for the rally to Scheman's office, he added. "Hopefully she can give us the money we need," Rogers said. But Scheman said she does not want to see student support get out of hand. "My attitude towards this is that it is important to let students participate, but I don't want to turn this into a real big thing," she said. Scheman added that students will have the opportunity to meet with Brown at the end of the day to ask her questions and tell her about the University. But while this "walk-through" provides an opportunity to win a debate, "the real opportunity comes after Penn wins," Scheman said. "The reason I want the debate and the reason Judith Rodin wants this debate?is because it is an enormous opportunity to get up close to a presidential campaign," she said. Scheman added that the probability of the University winning this debate is based on factors beyond the school's control. "The real thing that Janet has to care about is the pragmatic physical facilities," she said, explaining that there must be suitable accommodations both for the debate and for all of those involved. The other institutions and cities in contention for a 1996 debate are Furman University in Greenville, S.C.; George Washington University; Trinity College and the city of Hartford, Conn.; Michigan State University in East Lansing; the University of South Florida and the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla.; the University of Maryland at College Park; the University of Oklahoma at Norman; the University of California at San Diego and Washington University in St. Louis.Comments powered by Disqus
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