In preparation for VP debate, university looks to involve students

Puneet Kollipara
Student Life Archives

As Washington University prepares for the arrival of this year’s vice presidential debate, the school is calling on students to become involved in the process.

According to Rob Wild, assistant to the chancellor, the University will provide several opportunities for students to volunteer in the debate and to learn about the importance of politics in their lives.

“The primary reason that we choose to host debates is the direct benefit it provides to our students,” Wild said.

As in previous debates, students will be able to apply to volunteer to help University agencies and media outlets during the debate and in the preceding weeks.

According to Jennie Marchal, business development specialist at the Career Center, students can apply for about 200 positions-working as debate hall tour guides and ushers or taking on administrative and technical jobs-through the Career Center beginning today. According to Marchal, students have priority over faculty and staff.

“All the news media that are here, they need people to help them do [tasks], so the students are working with national news media, local news media, running tours, parking cars, running errands,” Marchal said. “Basically the students are doing everything that’s needed to help run the show.”

Applicants must submit a one-page professional résumé and cover letter detailing their skills. Those wishing to fine-tune their résumés can make an appointment with the Career Center.

All applicants will have the same application schedule; the early decision round will run from today through May 30, while the regular decision round will run from July 1 through Sept. 5. Actual positions will not be assigned until the entire application process is complete.

Students rejected during the early decision round can reapply during the regular decision round.

Marchal said that candidates would be selected based both on the quality of their skills as well as on their interest level, but that all would be judged on a level playing field.

Additionally, senior and former Student Union President Neil Patel and graduate student Laura Engle, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Council, currently serve as representatives on the Vice Presidential Debate Steering Committee, the body spearheading the debate planning process.

The committee, which is chaired by Wild and vice-chaired by Associate Vice Chancellor Steve Givens, contains about 50 school leaders from various University agencies, including public affairs, facilities, campus life, athletics, the Washington University Police Department and the Career Center.

Some students will have the opportunity to attend the debate. A limited number of debate tickets will be available for students by lottery, for which students can sign up beginning today at 8:30 a.m. and ending at noon on Sept. 26.

For those who do not receive debate tickets, the University will provide several remote debate viewing locations. Wild said that details about these locations will be released later in the year.

Among the educational opportunities for students to get involved is a semester-long programming series facilitated by Jill Carnaghi, assistant vice chancellor for students, that is aimed at raising political awareness among students. The Gephardt Institute for Public Service and the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government and Public Policy will also be hosting events involving students.

“It is our hope that the high level of activity surrounding the vice presidential debate will engage our students in the political process, force them to think about the key issues facing the United States and encourage those who are eligible to vote to do so,” Wild said.

Undergraduates can apply by logging onto the Career Center’s Web site at and going to the eRecruiting section. Graduate students, faculty and staff can also apply for positions, but must do so by submitting their materials online at Students can go to to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

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