On July 22, 2020, officials from the Commission on Presidential Debates, Utah Debate Commission and the University of Utah met with members of the Utah media to provide planning updates for the Vice Presidential Debate scheduled for Oct. 7, 2020.
Updates included details from the CPD about how the historic debate is being adapted to comply with best practices to ensure the safety of candidates, support staff and the university community. Utah Debate Commission and U officials also shared information about activities to connect regional students of all ages to the event.
“We are thrilled to be hosting this event on the University of Utah campus in partnership with the Utah Debate Commission,” said the U’s Debate Steering Committee Chair Jason Perry. “From Political Science, to Architecture, and Music, our faculty are putting together curriculum so all of our students have the opportunity to become engaged in some way in this once in a lifetime opportunity.” Perry also serves as the vice president of government relations and is the director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.
Details discussed during the briefing included a reduction in the number of media covering the event, a media tent erected on Presidents Circle and a reduced number of attendees in Kingsbury Hall during the event. All these precautions and more are being taken to assist in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and creating a safe environment for university staff and students, CPD and UDC staff, event volunteers, and members of the national and international media covering the event.
“We at the Commission on Presidential Debates are focused on the safety of our media and filming crews, staff members of the campaigns and our extraordinary partners at the University,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr., co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates. “We anticipate over 100 million viewers will be watching each of the four debates from around the world. However, we anticipate no more than 250 members of the media will be providing that coverage to the world and only 150 audience members will be allowed in Kingsbury Hall. We are taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously.”
For Utah students grades K-12, educational opportunities are being curated by the Utah Debate Commission. Students from St. George to Logan may participate in an essay contest, answering the question, “If you could ask the Vice Presidential candidates one question, what would it be and why?” More information on that contest will be distributed through a partnership with the Utah State Board of Education.
Information about the debate can be found at debate2020.utah.edu.