DAYTON — A mock presidential debate is among the activities being drawn up by leaders of Wright State University’s Student Government to add to the electricity on campus prior to the real debate.
The mock debate is tentatively scheduled to be held in the Student Union on Sept. 13, two weeks before the presidential candidates arrive at Wright State for the first of three general election debates.
A limited number of tickets will be available for Wright State students to attend the debate, which will be held at Wright State’s Nutter Center on Sept. 26. It is expected to be in the national and international spotlight and attract thousands of media members. The deadline for students to enter the ticket lottery to attend the debate is Aug. 29.
“A mock debate is something that will be really cool and engaging for the students,” said Lukas Wenrick, president-elect of the Student Government Association. “We’re trying to make sure something special happens.”
The mock debate will enable several thousand students to hear answers to questions that could be asked of the actual presidential candidates. A celebrity moderator is hoped for.
“The mock debate is all about the excitement factor,” said Nathan Balasubramanian, president of the Graduate Student Assembly and chief policy officer of the Student Government Association. “It will be the students’ show.”
Student Government is also planning other debate-related activities, including festivals, musical acts and debate watch parties.
A student leader task force is working to make sure that in the month leading up to the debate, “there is always something going on,” said Wenrick.
For example, the task force is trying to get Kid President to come to Wright State.
Kid President is 12-year-old actor Robby Novak, who portrays Kid President online and on television. He is featured in a series of YouTube videos and in a television show produced by Soul Pancake.
Student Government is also working to engage the Greater Dayton community in debate activities.
“We want this to not just be a Wright State event,” said Wenrick. “This is a Fairborn, Beavercreek, everything event.”
Wright State is also reaching out to the student governments in Ohio’s other public universities to see if they want to participate in Wright State’s debate-related activities or host their own events.
Wenrick said hosting a presidential debate for the first time makes it hard to know what to expect.
“But we’ve got a lot of great student leaders on campus who are really passionate about civic engagement,” he said. “We’re doing what we can to make sure we’re ready for anything.”
Wenrick believes the debate will prompt more students to vote and consider careers in public service.
“I think this will have a great impact in opening up options for students to look at law degrees or maybe the Secret Service,” added Balasubramanian.
Wenrick said the debate is a golden opportunity for the university to promote its mission and for students to get meaningfully engaged in the election process.
“Millions of students across the country don’t have the same opportunity,” he said. “It’s just a really special time to be at Wright State.”
The writer is the assistant director of public relations, communications and marketing for Wright State University. He can be reached at [email protected]