The 2020 Presidential Debates will not be coming to Omaha, as Creighton officially withdrew its application last month, citing the logistical issues surrounding hosting the debates.
“We withdrew our application because we did not feel prepared to support it properly in a short amount of time,” said John Darwin, special assistant to the president of Creighton and a member of the committee that submitted Creighton’s application.
When Creighton President the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, S.J., announced the bid in February, he said that he believed hosting the debates would enhance Creighton’s ability on the global stage. This belief was echoed by members of the committee that submitted Creighton’s application.
“We were excited by the prospect of bringing such a high-profile event to campus, and by the potential opportunity to engage our entire campus community in political dialogue,” said Darwin.
However, the application to host the 2020 Presidential Debate was not universally supported by the Creighton community.
Monica Gomez, president of Creighton College Democrats, did not support the bid, viewing Creighton’s intentions in hosting the debate as “insincere.”
In a Creighton College Democrats press release, Gomez said, “We find that a university that stifles, censors and prohibits political activism on campus is not worthy of hosting a presidential debate.”
Opposition to the bid transcended partisanship.
Haley Supergan, a senior in the College of Arts and Science and a self-described conservative, also expressed reservations.
“Personally, when I heard about the bid, I thought that Creighton had no business hosting a debate,” Supergan said. “Creighton is not a welcoming environment to views that go against the grain of liberalism and leftist activism ... Hosting a debate on this campus will only drive a deeper divide between the two sides and be the opposite of progress.”
However, according to Darwin, part of the reason Creighton applied was to bring the community together to discuss politics citing other schools’ success in hosting debates.
“Other site hosts we talked to emphasized how hosting a debate brought their campus community together and revealed new opportunities for class engagement and internships, to name just a few potential benefits,” said Darwin.
The University of Notre Dame, the University of Michigan and Belmont University were awarded the presidential debates, with the University of Utah receiving the vice presidential debate.