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Jenkins releases details on first 2020 presidential debate

| Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Only some of the seats in the Purcell Pavilion in the Joyce Center will be reserved for community members at September’s presidential debate, University President Fr. John Jenkins announced in an email late Tuesday night.

Scheduled to take place Sept. 29, the debate will be held in the Purcell Pavilion in the Joyce Center, where “only a portion of the seats in the arena will be available.”

Mary Bernard | The Observer
University President Fr. John Jenkins announces that Notre Dame will host the first general election debate of the 2020 election at an October 11 press conference. Jenkins announced further details surrounding the debate in an email to the community late Tuesday night.

“Although I would like to provide access to every member of the Notre Dame community, this will not be possible,” Jenkins said in the email.

A “small, and as yet undetermined” number of tickets will be allocated to enrolled Notre Dame students through a lottery system. Notre Dame Stadium will also host a “special debate watch” for community members not invited to attend.

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced in October that Notre Dame would host the first presidential debate of the 2020 general election campaign. The event will mark the first time the University has hosted a presidential debate, which Jenkins said should be seen as an opportunity.

“As we prepare for the debate, let us also remember that it will shine a spotlight on our campus,” Jenkins said. “ … Let us do our best to embody our characteristic Notre Dame hospitality, and to show ourselves to be engaged, thoughtful and civil.”

In the email, Jenkins also announced the “presidential debate and election” will be themes of the 2020 installment of the Notre Dame Forum, an annual occasion meant to promote discussion about issues the University deems important. The forum features an array of keynote events under a given theme.

“Through these keynote events [in 2020], we hope to invite the campus community to explore the history of presidential debates, offer insights into what to look for in the debates and provide food for thought about the key issues before us as citizens in the upcoming election,” Jenkins said.

Disruptions are expected, Jenkins said, as the University is expecting about 3,000 journalists and support staff from around the world to descend on campus ahead of the debate.

Jenkins encouraged the Notre Dame community to use the event as an opportunity to engage in “serious, honest but civil discussion.”

“The hosting of this debate and the coming election cycle is an opportunity for the members of this community to model vigorous and honest disagreement that is at the same time respectful and reasoned,” he said.

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