WESTERVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) — Sammer Hamed is a junior at Otterbein studying athletic training. Many of his classes are in the Rike Center which has been taken over by crews building the stage and hanging lights for Tuesday’s Democratic Presidential Debate.
This has displaced faculty and students like Hamed who now has to walk across campus to get to some classes and then back again for others.
At least Otterbein University is a small campus so his walks are only about 10 minutes, but that leads to another concern students have had since the crews have started to arrive and ahead of an influx of people expected to be on campus next week; parking.
Parking on campus is limited as it is, now some students like Nick Gialdini, also a junior, are walking from nearby uptown Westerville to get to class because they commute.
Other students like junior Meredith Marshall, a member of the student government on campus, say safety was a concern as well.
Most of those concerns have been addressed by campus administration to the satisfaction of students.
“It’s been emails galore over the last couple of weeks, you know, just telling us where we can park, where we can’t park, you know, when things are going to be open when things are not going to be open. They keep us updated very well and they are doing a good job on their part,” said Hamed.
That is leaving students like Marshall able to reflect on the opportunity presented to them and the university.
“We’re such a tiny school and the fact that they decided on us, and they decided to work with us on it, is like crazy,” said Marshall.
Meanwhile the administration is just as excited as the students are about the debate.
“Every student, every member of the faculty and staff can be close to this thing, play some part in this,” said John Comerford, president of the university. “It’s not going to be in some distant corner of campus, it’s really going to touch every part of campus.”
Students are already looking forward to candidates arriving on campus and are eager to hear their views on a number of topics.
For senior Erin Lanning studying nursing, her interest is in her future profession. “Any position they have on healthcare and how they might like maybe improve that is something that I’ve always cared about,” said Lanning.
Hamed wants to know about foreign policy.
“I’m kinda looking forward to their views on immigration policy, and kinda, like their views, especially policies for the middle east being my family is from the middle east and everything like that,” said Hamed.
Marshall had a number of issues she was curious to know their opinion on, one of which is a hot topic in Ohio right now; LGBTQ protections.
“I hope to hear more about how they hope to effect our government change so that we can now have more representation and equality and equity around campus, well around the United States,” said Marshall.
With only a few seats available for students to attend the actual debate, many will have to turn to a watch party on the other side of campus, the night of the debate.
Even thought this is a Democratic Party event, Lanning says this will be a great opportunity for all students no matter what party they associate with.
“We’ve always talked about, like we want kids our age to be involved in politics and learn about stuff and get involved in voting so I think this is a really great educational opportunity for everybody in campus, no matter like which way you lean, if you’re more conservative or liberal or anything like that.”