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Volunteer opportunities during the vice presidential debate

The Debate Steering Committee at the University of Utah is looking for engaged volunteers to assist with this once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Debate Steering Committee at the University of Utah is looking for engaged volunteers to assist with this once in a lifetime opportunity. Applications will be accepted today through Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020.

Priority will be given to currently enrolled University of Utah students. Students from other Utah colleges and universities are also encouraged to apply as well as faculty, staff, alumni and community members. Volunteers must be able to report to campus for designated shifts and follow the mandatory face covering protocols.


Some of the positions available include greeters, receptionists, runners, computer technicians, parking attendants and media assistants. Some jobs may require lifting or moving various heavy items, long stretches of standing, walking or sitting. All volunteers will be assigned duties that fit their specific ADA needs and accommodations. Volunteer selections will be made by Aug. 31, 2020.

Volunteers who are chosen for credentialed positions will need to complete a secondary application to provide information including full legal name, U.S. citizenship or nationality, date of birth, social security number and a passport-style photo. This information is required as a background check will be performed in order to receive a credential granting access to the security perimeter in place for the debate. Volunteer opportunities that do not require a credential may also be available.

Pre COVID-19, an estimated 800 volunteers were thought would be needed. Today, to ensure the safety of the staff, volunteers and national and international media, the number has been greatly reduced to around 150 volunteers.


U of U and Utah k-12 students of all ages can participate by entering the Utah Debate Commission's student essay contest. The 300-word essay must be submitted by Sept. 11, 2020, and should respond to the following prompt:

"If you could ask the vice presidential candidates one question, what would you ask and why?"

Winning essays will be published in The Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, and will be submitted as a potential topic for the Oct. 7, 2020 vice presidential debate.



Course title/ number
Professors & Collaborators
How will the debate be incorporated in the course content?
Social Work 6650 Tasha Seneca Keyes “Class discussions on the history of public education in the U.S. STudents will be looking at policies for schools and educating children k-12 and how they impact engagement and learning.  The presidential debates will be viewed for how they incorporate education policies and for who.”


Humanities and Diversity seminiar, Health
Professions LEAP 1100
Rachel Borup “For their final group project, students research the causes of healthcare inequalities in different communities in the U.S.  The topics of inequality, social justice, and healthcare are highly relevant for a Vice Presidential debate.  I will ask students to debate these issues in class prior to the VP Debate.  Using insights gained from these class debates, students will write questions for the VP candidates.  They will be required to attend or watch the VP Debate and write a reflection essay on how the candidates responded to healthcare and diversity issues afterward.”


Social and Ethical Implications of Engineering,
LEAP 1501,
Sections 2, 3 & 5
Seetha Veeraghanta, Dr. Jennifer Seagrave, Dr. Steve Maisch “Students will be exploring and studying the intersections of ethics, sustainability and engineering. Much of what will be discussed with be with respect to challenges to globalization, manufacturing jobs and engineering jobs.”


Introduction to Civic Leadership, BENN 2030 Dean McGovern “Discussion about pathways to community engagement/ policy & governance/ collaboration/ making systemic change/ community engagement activities will include debate options.”


Health Issues, HEDU 3050
Jessica King “Each week students learn about and debate a health topic. Many topics have been chosen relevant to the elections - gun control, abortion, immigration, recreational marijuana, universal healthcare, etc.”


Global Citizenship, HEDU 3050 Jay Jordan, Ammar Hussein, Rae Meads, Zeb Pischnotte “Critical responses focused on the candidates' comments about national identity, citizenship, international relations.”


Gender & Politics, POLS 3140-001 & GNDR 3140-001 Juliet Carlisle “The class will incorporate lectures and reading on a combination of topics that revolve around gender, media, and elections. Other assignments may be focused on media coverage and/or issue content of VP debate.”


Social & Family Policy Zhou Yu “A graduate course on social and family policy. A session will be devoted to the debate. Students are required to generate questions based on their interests in social and family policies.”


Mathematical Modeling,
Math 5740
Frederick R Adler, Saveez Saffarian “Use mathematical models to develop questions and evaluate answers relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic.”


The American Presidency,
POLS 3150
James Curry “Because this course is focused on the presidency, the class will discuss many topics relevant to the Vice President and the debate. For one, students will learn about the Vice Presidency -- the office, its history, and its functions. They will also spend several weeks learning about president campaigns, including the role of vice presidential nominees. Part of this material will focus on debates, including the VP debate. Students will be required to watch the debate and we will use video clips from the debate in class to discuss several important concepts about how candidates run for the Presidency and VP.”


Social Studies Methods for Elementary Teachers,
EDU 5380/6380


Peggy McCandless “Through the lens of the Utah State K-6 Core Curriculum, various discussions and ideas of how to incorporate the elections into the elementary social studies curriculum.”


Campaign Management,
POLS 3160
Dave Buhler “Sept. 21-- history and strategy of presidential and other campaign debates.”


Campaign Management,
POLS 3160
Dave Buhler “Sept. 21-- history and strategy of presidential and other campaign debates.  Oct 12, speaker on the U's hosting of the VP debate, Oct. 19, Research and Debate preparation.”


Legal Professions, LEAP 2700 Ann Engar “Students will research legal background of candidates and important legal issues likely to arise in the campaign, such as rethinking the role of police in the United States.”


Intro to Health, Society & Policy major., HSP 1001 Rebecca Utz “Students will watch the debate and complete a written assignment (and/or discussion) where they will reflect on questions they have or proposed policy solutions discussed by the VP candidates related to health policy, social disparities/inequality, etc.”


Gender Theory
and Community Organizing,
GNDR 2500,
GNDR 5660
Kilo Zamora “GNDR 2500 will focus on being involved in student activities and write about the experience.

GNDR 5660 will be working on identifying a gender justice project—determined by the students on how they want to organize and engage—that can be tied to the debate.”


Classical Mythology, Classical
Civilization 1550
John Wynne “Under COVID-19, this is an asynchronous online class. During the week of the debate the class will specifically cover Athenian mythology.  Ancient Athens was a radical democracy and has been a formative influence on American democratic thinking. Brief discussions will also include the classical architecture and inscriptions of Kingsbury Hall, and how they help to make the debate, and the U, part of a very long cultural tradition.”


Urban Artworks, Painting Special Topics, Classical Civilization 1550


Martinez Valerie “Students would be provided the opportunity to create art inspired and in reaction to the debate.”


Black Politics Now: A Virtual Panel Discussion Meligha Garfield October 6th via zoom.


Music History III: Late 19th Century to the Present,
Elizabeth Craft "One class session will be dedicated to "Campaign Music and the Vice Presidential Debate." We will be learning about the history of campaign music, we will listen to how music and sound are featured in the vice-presidential debate, and we will consider how music is used in the 2020 campaign more broadly. This will be part of a three-session unit on music and politics."