University in Ohio Withdraws from Hosting Presidential Debate

Security concerns on campus played a major part in the decision to cancel the event.

Citing budget and security concerns, Wright State University announced on July 19 that it is withdrawing from hosting this year’s first presidential debate.

WSU President David Hopkins says rising security costs and less-than-expected donor contributions forced him to withdraw his institution, reports the Daytona Daily News.

The Commission on Presidential Debates quickly announced that Hofstra University in New York will now host the Sept. 26 debate. Hofstra University offered 15 WSU students the opportunity to attend the debate July 20.

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Initial estimates pegged security costs around $5 million for the event, but as the date got closer that figure grew to well over $8 million. President Hopkins says the security costs could have reached as much as $11 million in total.

“It’s the responsible thing to do,” Wright State Board of Trustees Chair Michael Bridges says of the cancellation. “While the community has been overwhelmingly supportive of Wright State hosting the debate, the safety and security of the campus and community is of paramount importance.”

The security concerns were in part exacerbated by the fact that WSU is an open campus. The event was set to be held at the university’s Nutter Center, but Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick says with so many people on campus it would not feel safe.

“We were fully aware of the challenges and were prepared to meet them when we decided to host the debate, but things have changed,” President Hopkins said. “The current national environment has made security even more critical.”

The university’s current financial situation was another reason it has to withdraw. University reserve funds, which President Hopkins didn’t want to use, are falling from $162 million in 2012 to an estimated $40 million in 2018. To improve the university’s financial outlook, officials are cutting $27.7 million in the budget, including $8 million in staff attrition.

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