'It is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate' -- University of Michigan

June 23, 2020, 9:07 AM

Never mind UM's agreement to host a fall presidential campaign debate.

"With great disappointment," its president asks the sponsoring organization "for the University of Michigan to be released from its agreement with the Commission on Presidential Debates to host the presidential debate on Oct. 15, 2020."

The debaters

Instead of taking place at Crisler Center, that faceoff between Joe Biden and Donald Trump is moved to a Miami arts center on the same date. It'll be the second of three presidential debates before the Nov. 3 election.

President Mark Schlissel cites health concerns in his surprise request, posted Tuesday by the university:

"Given the scale and complexity of the work we are undertaking to help assure a safe and healthy fall for our students, faculty and staff and limited visitors — and in consideration of the public health guidelines in our state as well as advice from our own experts — we feel it is not feasible for us to safely host the presidential debate as planned."

The New York Times provides context on a secoind likely factor besides safety:

Presidential general election debates cost their hosts millions of dollars, sums universities typically raise from their own large donors in order to bask in the prestige of hosting an event that draws international attention. But with the coronavirus pandemic stretching budgets and making large gatherings of students and donors on campus not viable, some of the value in hosting a major debate may be lost.

Read more:  The University Record

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