By Cortney Moore
Hofstra University will be hosting the 2016 Presidential Debate on Sep. 26. This is the university’s third time in a row hosting the event, after the 2008 and 2012 debates. Thus making history as the first university to host consecutive debates. As preparation for the debate is underway, security measures have increased at the university to meet the standards of this high profiled event.
In order to protect the student body, staff and those involved closely with the debate, Hofstra is working closely with various law enforcement branches as it prepares for the debate and all the responsibilities that go along with hosting a presidential debate. According to Lynda J. O’Maley, Assistant Director of Public Safety, the university is collaborating with”federal, state and local agencies” in anticipation of the high traffic Hofstra will receive leading up to and after the debate. Additionally, there are increased patrols scheduled on campus by Public Safety, as well as limited access on who is allowed to visit campus and road closures to provide increased security. O’Maley also went on to discuss how it has been challenging for the university to implement these security measures on such short notice. “Obviously, having sixty days versus a year to prepare presented some challenges, but fortunately Hofstra has hosted two previous debates so there is a great deal of information and planning that we have been able to draw upon.”
The office of Residence Life has also had its hands full getting ready for the coming events. Typically the residents of Hofstra University are able to have visitors at any time of day, but limitations are set to be put in place Friday, Sep. 23 and will remain in effect until Tuesday, Sep. 27. During this time, non-Hofstra guests will not be permitted into residence halls; a policy that will be strictly enforced by Resident Safety Representatives. Commuter students will not be impacted by this policy however, and can still visit the dorms if they are being hosted by a resident. “At this time, Residence Life and the Department of Public Safety have not received any complaints from students regarding the guest policy,” Beth McGuire, Director of Residence Life said when asked if students were upset about changes in visitation. McGuire went on to add, “We believe our resident students understand that this limitation has been enacted in order to ensure their safety, as their residence halls are their homes away from home.” However, it is worth to note that non-students are allowed on campus if they have been invited to the debate or a debate viewing party.
Though the administration at Public Safety and Residential Life have not received complaints from students on guest limitation, there are those who are bothered by the change in regulation. “I don’t understand why that rule is in effect though. If they’re worried about weapons or something, can’t Hofstra students also interfere with the debate,” asked 19-year-old Jackie Dalius. Aside from questioning, some students are frustrated that they can’t have the important people in their lives share this moment with them.”The numbers are hardly contained. My mom came to visit and I had to tell her she couldn’t come up to my room. Also have not been able to have my boyfriend over for a week,” said Camille Knight, a film student at the university. “I feel the guest limitation will last way longer than it needs to, especially since it’ll last even after the debate. It’s a bit inconvenient,” pointed out grad student Adrie Bailey. However, there are students who are more understanding towards the new policy. “It’s annoying but necessary,” said Eudejardy Norde, a senior at Hofstra. Students have also expressed concern over the limited space for parking, and possible difficulties they could face trying to enter or exit campus on debate day.
Other safety measures students should be aware of during the debate according to Public Safety are emergency evacuation protocols. “All students, faculty, and staff are reminded to make sure their Emergency Contact Information is up-to-date in the CANN (Campus Alert Notification Network) system, as that is a primary means for communicating to the campus community during an emergency situation,” O’Maley said. Through the CANN, Hofstra University staff and students will be notified of emergency situations via text, email, assorted web sites, radio, television and public address systems. Students are also urged to listen out for alarms during the week leading up to the debate, and that they should be mindful of evacuation procedures for their residence hall and even campus. “In some instances, as part of university emergency protocols, students may be advised to remain inside their residence hall until such time as it is safe to leave their building,” reminds students; and of course to do so in a “safe, swift and orderly process.”
Though there are mixed feelings over the security measures taking place at Hofstra University, the debate is only a few days away. Increased campus security is a necessary factor for the protection of the Hofstra community, the media outlets that will be broadcasting during the event, and of course the candidates who will be debating; one of which will become president of the United States and determine what becomes of the nation.