The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M explains presidential debate bid withdrawal

A&M had an opportunity to be the location of one of the 2016 presidential debates, but withdrew from the running after considering several factors.
Texas A&M President Michael Young requested A&M’s removal from the debate location bidding process late last month in a letter sent to the Federal Commission of Presidential Debates. A&M administrators cited the unexpected bidding cost, coupled with expected academic disruption, as the main factors behind Young’s decision. The presidential debates will be held in October of 2016, a month before the election in November.
Shane Hinckley, interim vice president for marketing and communications director of collegiate licensing, said one of the main reasons A&M withdrew from the bidding process was the cost A&M would incur hosting the event.
“The overall price of the debate after we started the bid process was more than we expected it to be,” Hinckley said. “The cost of the debate was going to end up being somewhere between $3.5 to $5 million.”
Hinckley said another concern was the expected focus on higher education within the debates.
“We felt that perhaps having politicians on our campus that would be speaking about how higher education was raising tuition, and raising costs and in general blaming higher education for the problem, and then having us come and spend $4 million to have them come and criticize us, we didn’t think that was fair to the students or the faculty or the staff,” Hinckley said.
Joseph Ura, A&M political science professor, said if A&M had been selected to host the debates, there were plans to launch a number of academic programs and classes to go along with the them. Ura said despite A&M’s bid withdrawal, some of these plans will still be enacted.
“I think thinking big and having ambitious ideas and pursuing them can have great effects for our institution even if they don’t succeed in the way we originally envisioned them,” Ura said. 

Hinckley said there was also some concern the debates would have disrupted student life because roads and areas of campus would have to be shutdown for the candidates safety.

“When this comes in, everything is going to have to shutdown to accommodate these presidential candidates and the press and we can’t guarantee that classes on those days would operate normally,” Hinckley said. “We couldn’t guarantee that research experiments and the people that needed to get to those places wouldn’t be blocked off in some fashion or time frame.” 

Jay Socol, director of communications for the city of College Station, said College Station Mayor Nancy Berry supported Young’s decision.

“While it would’ve been an honor for A&M and the community [if selected] to have played host to an event with global interest, she respects Dr. Young’s commitment to spend those millions of dollars on more-pressing needs,” Socol said.

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