Russi envisions OU as a debate venue

The success of the GOP debate recently held on campus was so immeasurable that OU is considering playing host again.

President Russi said that he wants to further involve the university with the Commission on Presidential Debates in order to look into becoming a part of the rotation of schools that routinely hosts the events.

“We’re going (to) look at that and see if we want to apply to be on the regular debate scene,” he said.

According to the CPD website, their goal is “to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”

Other universities that have recently hosted debates are University of Colorado, Centre College and Hofstra University.

David Dulio said that it makes sense for OU to become involved with future presidential debates, as all sides — OU, the Michigan GOP and CNBC — had good experiences with this debate.

However, it’s too soon to know what the responsibilities of being considered for another debate would be.

“The university would need additional time to research and assess this matter,” Karen Kukek, executive assistant to the president said, “I think it’s clear, however, that we know how to manage a successful event of that magnitude.”

According to the CPD, size and production are just some of the factors when it comes to the cost of a presidential debate.

This time around, CNBC rented out the O’Rena from OU, but there were also costs paid by the university.

“The costs incurred by OU were directly related to enhancing the educational experience of our students. Furthermore, any costs incurred by the university were taken care of through philanthropy,” Ted Montgomery, director of media relations said.

To the Michigan GOP, OU’s location in Oakland County was particularly important for this debate because the area has been hit hard by the economy, Montgomery said.

Though the university will consider hosting further debates, Montgomery said the situation would likely be different in the future because the event may not be economy-driven.

The overall idea of becoming a regular debate school was made possible by the success of the GOP debate held on Nov. 9.

“The media attention before, during and even after the event was uniformly positive, as it related strictly to the university.” Kukek said, “… I think having the debate here offered tremendous opportunity to our students and provided them with a once-in-a-lifetime experience to participate in the democratic process.”

According to Montgomery, the success of this debate is proof we could hold similar events in the future, but they would be chosen on a case-by-case basis.

“I believe that the success of the Nov. 9th debate is proof that we have the technical and logistical expertise to handle an event of that magnitude, and we have the facilities and prime location that make us a desirable host site,” Montgomery said.

Russi said the question still stands on whether OU wants to continue holding these large-scale events.

“We’ve had multiple standing presidents here and we have this national coverage,” Russi said “… so the question is do we want to be on the list for debates all the time? We’re going to look into it and see what happens.”