October 13, 2004
The networks have taken over Arizona State University.
MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN and other national and international news organizations have converged on campus to cover tonight’s debate between President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC taped a segment of his "Hardball " show late Tuesday afternoon as Bush and Kerry supporters tried to out-shout each other in the background.
ASU officials say it will be business as usual today, but on Tuesday, as the debate drew near, the campus was a very different place.
Chalk-written political messages from "viva Bush" to "defeat Bush-Cheney" covered concrete slabs between buildings. Networks had erected huge platforms around the Hayden library. A faculty member planted nearly 1,100 white crosses on an ASU lawn to represent U.S. service members killed in Iraq, and hosts of students and faculty members carried campaign signs throughout the day.
A number of professors have canceled classes and some students are saying they won’t come near the campus today.
Neil Giuliano, ASU’s director of community relations and development, said things should be pretty close to normal except near Gammage Auditorium on the far southwest corner of the campus.
Brad Kirkman-Liff, a professor who teaches graduate courses on biotechnology entrepreneurship, moved his class Tuesday from ASU to a Chinese restaurant near the Tempe-Chandler border, and canceled today’s classes, because of parking restrictions near his classroom.
"It’s quite an interesting scene here," Kirkman-Liff said.
Jennifer Smith, a senior studying urban planning and geography, said all three of her classes today were canceled. Smith, a Democrat, said the national exposure is good for ASU, but added she was probably going to spend the day elsewhere.
"I think I’m going to stay as far away as possible," Smith said.
Trevor Burggraff, a junior studying justice and political science, said he was scheduled to help moderate the debate-watching event that will begin at 3 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena on campus. The event includes a local band and Democratic and Republican speakers, with the debate being shown on a big screen at 6 p.m. for students and the public.
Burggraff, a Republican, said he likes the excitement created by the debate because it’s causing students to take an interest in national politics, and because it’s putting ASU in the international spotlight.
"This is only going to happen once in a lifetime," Burggraff said.