Virginia State University to host 2024 Presidential Debate, students say opportunity 'means a lot'

School becomes first HBCU to host a presidential debate
Poster image - 2023-11-20T224956.891.jpg
Posted at 12:37 PM, Nov 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-20 23:05:10-05

ETTRICK, Va. -- Virginia State University (VSU) announced Monday that it would host a 2024 Presidential Debate.

The university said it is the "first Historically Black College or University (HBCU) ever selected to host a General Election U.S. Presidential Debate."

"We are honored and grateful to have been chosen as a host for a 2024 Presidential Debate,” VSU President Dr. Makola M. Abdullah said in a statement. "This is a historic moment for our university and for HBCUs nationwide."

VSU students were also excited about the announcement, with senior and Student Government Association President Kailyn Haye surprised that her school was chosen.

“I was really, really, really surprised. It usually would go to a Howard, a Spellman, larger institutions," Haye said. “Everyone’s really, like, shocked. They’re like wow, we’re the first to do it. To be able to say you’re the first, means a lot.”

Haye also said that whoever the next president is, it's important they listen to students' concerns.

"Being able to hear… being able to hear where we’re coming from first hand, we want to feel heard. We want to be heard. Because they have the power to make change, across the board for our lives," Haye said. "If you’re going to come here, you need to listen to us and know that we’re serious about what we want, and if you’re supposed to be the next president of the United States, you need to understand your constituents, and what we want to see, and the change we want to happen."

The University's Assistant Vice President for Government Relations, Eldon Burton, also expressed excitement about the announcement.

“For me, I was a student here, I’m an alum. I had a wonderful opportunity to go on Capitol Hill and do internships. There’s no telling how this could excite students, whether they’re in mass communications or political science or whatever, how this could excite them to move further along in starting their career.”

The debate, scheduled for October 1, 2024, at the VSU Multipurpose Center, would be the second of three scheduled presidential debates.

Virginia State University
The VSU Multipurpose Center on 2nd Avenue in Ettrick, Va.

In 2016, Longwood University hosted a debate between vice-presidential candidates Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.

Local News

Locals surprised by Kaine’s ‘aggressive’ VP debate performance

Brendan King
5:39 PM, Oct 05, 2016

The University of Richmond was the site for a 1993 presidential debate between President George Bush, Democratic challenger Bill Clinton, and third-party candidate Ross Perot. That debate was the first presidential debate conducted in a town hall-style forum.

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