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Presidential Debate 2012: Lights, Cameras, PRIDE!

Hofstra University student Gianfranco Lentini reports on the recent Obama-Romney debate held on his campus, and how it relates to theater and the arts. logo

Inside the Debate Hall
(© Anand Patel)
It's not a lie when it's said that Hofstra University in Long Island, NY has PRIDE! This past week, Hofstra University, for a second time since 2008, hosted the second 2012 Presidential Debate on campus! Here's a breakdown of what campus life was like and how the debate related to theater and the arts:

October 1, 2012-October 14, 2012:
EVERYDAY: Let's play I Spy the Secret Service as we nonchalantly go about our daily, college routines.

October 15, 2012:
7:00AM-2:00PM: I volunteer as an assistant stage manager for an event on campus called Democracy in Performance. There, four large tents were set up outdoors on Hofstra University's quads, each housing professional and student Chautauqua actors from Susan B. Anthony to Teddy Roosevelt to Harriet Tubman. Indoors at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse, dancers, actors, and singers got the chance to express what government meant to them through performance.

ALL DAY: Camera crews from FOX, CBS, and even MTV run frantically throughout campus finding students to interview.

6:00PM-11:00PM: Of course, gotta fit in The Learned Ladies rehearsal!

October 16, 2012:
12:00PM: I join the Democratic Rally as they travel from Colonial Square, a residence hall on the northern most part of campus, to MSNBC's stage built right outside our Student Center, the Sondra and David S. Mack Student Center!

12:30PM-1:45PM: I stay with the Rally of Democrats and Republicans as we chant, cheer, and wave banners and posters for the cameras feeding us LIVE to every television across America! Hofstra Pride!

2:00PM: I head into the Student Center to an event called "Issue Alley" where I join Spectrum Players, Hofstra University's play organization, which I am secretary of, to discuss why the National Endowment for the Arts and funding are so important. There, I talked to students, faculty, and debate staff, and everyone made a poster for the table answering this question:

What do the Arts do for America?
(Here are some of the answers we received!)

• "Obama (hearts) Bette Midler!"
• "Music and Theatre have saved my Life."
• "Music and Theatre kept me in SCHOOL!"
• "The Arts tell the stories of American Lives."
• "Music saves Lives because it's essential to Life!"
• "What is it good for? ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!"
• "The Arts allow EXPRESSION and increase HAPPINESS."
• "The Arts allow people to share their voices through different mediums."
• "The Arts: A center for creativity and freedom. They are the prime example of the statement "It's not who you are but what you do." The arts value the urge to do good. They motivate people to go above and beyond. Go Arts!"
• "Theatre makes endorphins. Endorphins make happy people. Happy people don't kill! (So a Legally Blonde reference)!"

4:00PM: The President of Spectrum Players, Maggie Kissinger, delivers her speech on why funding for the Arts in America is so vital to education and culture. She receives a roar of applause at the end!

5:45PM: I join the line at HofUSA, Hofstra University's Campus Restaurant, waiting to grab a seat for a simulcast of the Debate happening only a short walk away at the David S. Mack Sports Complex!

6:00PM: President Obama flies overhead of us and arrives to Hofstra University!

6:58PM: The doors to HofUSA are finally open and everyone storms the barricades to get a good seat and some awesome Debate 2012 swag!

9:00PM: The debate begins with an opening by Stuart Rabinowitz, Hofstra University's president! Every time "Hofstra University" is said on air, a deafening cheer erupts from the student body!

10:30PM-12:00AM: The events continue from dance performances to a-cappela groups, and finally I drag myself home where a mid-term on the history of drama has been patiently waiting for me for the past four days.


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