Presidential debate story ideas

Faculty Experts — Politics Washington University in St. Louis has a strong connection to modern presidential politics, having been selected to host presidential candidate debates in each election from 1992-2004. This year marks the first time WUSTL has hosted a vice presidential debate. The University is home to a top-rated graduate program in political science, which includes leading experts on presidential politics and policies. The University also boasts top experts in health care, law, business and social policy issues. For media assistance, contact Gerry Everding, Office of Public Affairs. (314) 935-6375 or View experts list:

Hosting a Debate Takes a Village All hands are on deck when it comes to hosting a vice presidential debate, including carpenters, telecommunications workers, electricians, police and managers.

Two vice presidential candidates and their entourages present many logistical challenges for an institution hosting a debate. These include secret service requirements, facilities preparations, equipment, space and information for approximately 1,500 media representatives worldwide; room for political demonstrations; parking, traffic accommodations, and many challenges that are unanticipated. For more information, contact Steve Givens, Office of Public Affairs, (314) 935-5408,; or M. Fredric Volkmann, Office of Public Affairs, (314) 935-5476,

Events Around Campus The full calendar of debate related events is available here.

WUSTL student leaders provide perspective on debate experience Washington University students involved in political organizations and issues on campus have been playing a huge role in the planning of the debate and related student activities, including voter registration drives, rallies and competitions. A couple dozen of these students, including leaders from Student Union, College Republicans, College Democrats and other campus student organizations, are eager to share their perspectives with media seeking comment on what the debate means to students and the excitement that comes with hosting a major national political event. For help setting up an interview or other media assistance with these stories, contact Gerry Everding in the Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-6375.

University volunteers make debate possible During the 2004 debate, more than 600 University community members volunteered their time to help make it a success. This year, volunteers are already applying for positions. For more information on student volunteers, contact Gerry Everding in the Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-6375. Volunteers will be working in the following areas: • Presidential Debate Commission Office – administrative support • The Media Filing Center – administrative support • The Debate Hall – ushers and credential check • Production Assistance – engineering support, staging aspect • Tours – lead tours of debate facility • Tickets – assist with ticketing and security procedures • National News Media – administrative support

Students vie for hottest ticket in town via debate ticket lottery Thousands of WUSTL students will learn more on the afternoon of Sept. 26 about their chances of getting one of the much-coveted tickets to attend the vice presidential debate on Oct. 2. As of mid-September, more than 7,000 currently enrolled students had registered their interest in being considered for any tickets that might be made available to the university by debate sponsor, the Commission on Presidential Debates. This year’s student debate ticket lottery carries on a rich WUSTL tradition of pledging that any debate tickets received by the university will be awarded entirely to WUSTL students, a tradition that dates back to a decision made by then WUSTL Chancellor William Danforth just ahead of the 1996 presidential debate, the first of three to be held at the university. WUSTL students selected by the lottery to receive available tickets will be notified the afternoon of September 26, and some of those drawn first in the lottery will be available for media interviews.

More information is available here.

For media assistance, contact Gerry Everding in the Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-6375.

Gephardt Institute, student groups kick-off campus voter registration push with event, Sept. 18 To help facilitate interest and participation in the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate and presidential election in November, the Richard A. Gephardt Institute for Public Service is coordinating an all-day, campus-wide voter registration drive Sept. 18. WUSTL student Jordan Aibel is working with the Institute to develop a range of other campus events all geared toward getting as many students as possible registered to vote this November.

More information is available

For questions, contact Robin Hattori with the Gephardt Institute, at (314) 935-8628. For media assistance, contact Neil Schoenherr in the Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-5235.

Transformation of Athletic Center into debate venue poses huge challenges for campus facilities and technical support staff, St. Louis construction and communications contractors. Previous debates have required rapid installation of 25,000 square feet of carpeting and vast amounts of communications and power infrastructure, including 4,000 additional electrical outlets, 10 major power, 53 miles of fiber optic cables, 1,600 voice and data lines and 1,500 temporary telephone numbers. As part of the University’s preparations for the debate, the Athletic Complex will close at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 24. The exercise equipment typically housed in the Athletic Complex will be moved Sept. 25 to make room for the amenities needed for the debate. The tentative reopening date for most of the Athletic Complex is Oct. 6.

For media assistance contact Jessica Daues in Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-5293 or

Campaign cookie contest to return in 2008 If presidential politics and elections leave a bad taste in your mouth, then WUSTL campus food services vendor Bon Appetit has something for you. In recognition of the presidential campaign, the bakery staff of Bon Appetit — the University’s contracted food service provider — is planning to bake a cookies each day in an animal shape reflective of the 2008 candidates. For the 2004 debate, they made cookies with elephants emblazoned on one batch and donkeys on the other. Sales of the cookies serves as a barometer of sorts, allowing students to voice their preference for the candidate of their choice. The tally just before the 2004 presidential debate on campus was 651 donkeys vs. 407 elephants.) Click here for more information on this year’s event.

See the story from 2004 here.

For media assistance, contact Jessica Daues in Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-5293 or

Debate spawns array of campus events, student projects, rallies Maximizing the momentum of the 2008 presidential election year, WUSTL’s Gephardt Institute for Public Service is working with Student Union and other University partners to engage students, faculty, and staff in political dialogue and action. The Oct. 2 vice presidential debate provides the campus community with an insider’s look at the democratic process, and students are building on that enthusiasm to engage campus community in a wide range of activities billed as “IVote” programming.

View current calendar of debate-related events and programs:

Highlights include:

Make it Clear Multimedia Competition

Students will be able to express themselves through video, written word or visual display in this election-inspired competition, which will be launched in mid-September. More information avialable here.

Political Art Installations

Any student may propose creative artistic installations related to politics that can be displayed on the Danforth campus. Funding will be available for supplies starting in September.

Student Mini-Debate Competition

In honor of the Vice Presidential Debate, students will be able to test their debating prowess on a number of topics.

For more information on any of these events, contact Robin Hattori with the Gephardt Institute at (314) 935-8628

For media assistance, contact Neil Schoenherr in the Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-5235.

WUSTL faculty plan range of college course on themes tied to the debate, campaigns and elections WUSTL faculty, schools and academic departments are taking advantage of the debate-related surge in political interest on campus to offer students an array of courses specially tailored to explore political issues and the election process.

Among offerings in Arts & Sciences this fall is a Freshman Focus course on “Americans and Their Presidents” taught by history professor Peter Kastor; a course on “Campaigns and Elections” taught by WUSTL political science instructor and Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith; a course on “American Elections and Voting Behavior” taught by assistant political science professor Melanie Springer; and a course on “Voting Rights” taught by Denise Lieberman.

The Olin Business School is offering a fascinating survey course on “The Business of Presidential Elections” under the direction of the business school’s Stephen Malter, which will offer students a stellar line-up of weekly guest speakers, including politicians, pundits and faculty political experts.

University College in Arts & Sciences is offering a range of evening courses on political themes, including a course on “Race and Ethnicity in American Politics” taught by Bill Hall; a course on “American Electoral Politics: Election 2008” taught by former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter and WUSTL instructor Repps Hudson; a course on “Special Topics in Journalism: Covering Elections 2008” led by former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter and WUSTL instructor Bob Duffy; and “Vision, Character, and Courage: The Making of the President 2008,” a four-part, noncredit course taught by Steve Lawler.

For media assistance, contact: Neil Schoenherr for Business school courses at (314) 935-5235. Gerry Everding for Arts & Sciences courses at (314) 935-6375 Jessica Daues for University Collage courses at (314) 935-5293

Debate venue tours Washington University will again offer public tours of the Vice Presidential Debate venue in the Athletic Complex. Tours will be given on Sunday, Sept. 28 from Noon until 6 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 29 from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Individuals and school groups are invited to take the tour. Groups should contact Terri Brennan in advance at (314) 935-5040 to schedule a time. Please note that cameras and camera phones will not be allowed inside the debate venue. For media assistance, contact Neil Schoenherr in the Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-5235.

Former Gore counsel Burson and Ambassador Schweich to headline VP Debate watch party at the law school Charles W. Burson, former counsel to the Vice President and assistant to the President and Chief of Staff at The White House, and Ambassador Thomas Schweich, special representative for Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, are the lead commentators for the Washington University School of Law’s Vice Presidential Debate Watch Party at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2 in the Student Commons of Anheuser-Busch Hall.

For media assistance, contact Jessica Martin at (314) 935-5251.

WUSTL student media will cover debate from state-of-art journalism facilities in the University’s new $43 million student center

WUSTL student journalists are gearing up to cover debate from new, state-of-the art journalism newsrooms and television broadcast studios housed in the Danforth University Center, a just-opened $43 million student activities and dining center, which students have nicknamed “The DUC.” The building features studios and newsrooms for media groups, such as the student-run television and the Student Life newspaper (, the yearbook and other student-operated publications. Most will be giving their new facilities a workout as they prepare for special debate-related news and feature coverage.

For more information, contact Sam Guzik, Editor in Chief, Student Life, at

For media assistance, contact Neil Schoenherr in the Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-5235.

Commission On Presidential Debates announces internet educational partnership with MySpace WUSTL’s MySpace community is expected to take a high-profile in discussions in a first-time partnership between the Commission on Presidential Debates and the Internet social networking site MySpace. CPD co-chairmen Paul G. Kirk, Jr. and Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr. announced an Internet educational partnership with MySpace for the 2008 general election debates. The project is the result of a ten-month collaboration between the CPD and BBH New York, an advertising and media agency working with the CPD as new media advisor and conceptual partner. A new website, , will be created to enhance the educational value of the televised debates, engage new audiences, and facilitate ongoing online conversation throughout the general election period.

More information can be found at

For media assistance, contact Neil Schoenherr in the Office of Public Affairs at (314) 935-5235.

Two WUSTL students attend RNC and DNC, bring experience back to campus via blog postings in student newspaper Senior Hana Greenberg and junior Scott Friedman, both in Arts & Sciences, will gain an inside look at the U.S. political process by participating in a Washington Center educational program focused on the election year. As part of the program, Greenberg will attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver while Friedman will travel to Minneapolis to attend the Republican National Convention. Both will receive media credentials through Student Life, the University’s student newspaper, to have access to exclusive events at the conventions.

More information is available at