The University of Dayton got up close with Ohio politics Sept. 19 in hosting the first Ohio gubernatorial debate between Republican nominee Mike DeWine and Democratic nominee Richard Cordray.
Attending the event, held at Daniel J. Curran Place, were journalists and photographers from across the state, along with UD students from UD Magazine, Flyer News, and both the College Democrats and College Republicans, among other groups and organizations.
Both University students and professional press had the opportunity to be in the media room and received special access to fact check updates on the candidates throughout the debate. In addition, students had the privilege to meet both DeWine and Cordray — a rare experience for any college student.
But, as I covered the event as a student journalist, I wondered, how did the University of Dayton end up being chosen to host such an important political event? And, now that it’s over, what does hosting this event mean for UD’s reputation in the future?
Ted Bucaro, government and regional relations director at UD, talked with me after the debate to explain what happens behind the scenes when putting on the political event.
Bucaro explained that for years the University had sent out letters to candidates, asking them to consider the University of Dayton as a location for their debate. This year both DeWine’s and Cordray’s campaigns said yes.
“We saw some real opportunities for students,” Bucaro said when he found out the University would be hosting.
And opportunities were plentiful at the debate with students participating in every aspect of the event from laying down tape for the camera crew, to keeping time on the candidates’ answers, to writing stories on the debate in the media room for UD Magazine and Flyer News, to watching the debate live, thanks to the generosity of the county Republicans and Democrats, who offered students some of their tickets.
There was also a debate watch party on the second floor where, at any given time, 40-50 students and faculty from campus organizations such as Student Government, College Republicans, and College Democrats watched the debate as a group.
Bucaro said that is was a group effort with UD staff from the IT department, the government and regional relations department, and the media relations department to student organizations such as Vote Everywhere and Student Government Association all pitching in to make the debate a success.
“There’s a lot that goes into a 58-minute production,” Bucaro pointed out.
Looking to the future and what hosting this event will mean for UD’s reputation, Bucaro is optimistic.
“Intuitively, I think it’s huge. If they’re a 17-year-old and they happen to be interested in political science, and they were watching the debate, and they see what the University is capable of, they’re going to look at UD,” he said.