YOUR VOICE, YOUR VOTE

Pandemic forces university officials to adapt, change VP debate plan

Oct 7, 2020, 9:54 AM
Crews put finishing touches on the stage at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake C...
Crews put finishing touches on the stage at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in preparation for Wednesday’s vice presidential debate. (Deseret News)
(Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wednesday’s vice presidential debate at the University of Utah will look a lot different than what most were expecting when the location was announced a year ago. University officials say organizing an event of this size during a pandemic has required a lot of creativity and problem-solving.

 

Simpler times, before the pandemic

It was almost a year to the day, October 11th, 2019, when it was announced that the U of U would host a vice presidential debate. At that time, the coronavirus was not dominating the discussion and social distancing was hardly on anyone’s mind.

“The original plan was upwards of 1,000 media [members] on campus and to have a big viewing party at Rice-Eccles Stadium,” explains Chris Nelson, Director of Communications with the University of Utah.

Nelson says the coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot in terms of what Wednesday night will look like. That will be obvious enough with a plexiglass barrier being placed between the debaters. He says one thing that did stay the same though, is the fact that all campus classes have moved online right now. The university was already planning on that for this week simply to make the logistics work.

“We originally had moved our fall break to this week to accommodate the vice presidential debate, because we knew it was going to be disruptive with students on campus,” he explains.

Once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

It should be noted that just because classes are online, that doesn’t mean students won’t be around campus. Around 300 student-volunteers will be doing several tasks like handing out credentials and acting as stand-ins for dress rehearsals throughout the day.

“My hope would be that volunteers take away from this experience how to be busy… very quickly,” says Lori McDonald, VP of Student Affairs at the University of Utah.

Some volunteers and staff will also draw traffic and parking duty. 1st South will be highly restricted around campus on Wednesday and the university is encouraging the public, for safety reasons, to stay away from campus.

Security is being handled by the University of Utah police, Salt Lake Police, and Utah Highway Patrol, while the United States Secret Service has control of the debate hall.

Today’s Top Stories

Your Voice, Your Vote

ballot count amendments utah...
Lindsay Aerts

County clerks report more poll watchers, scrutiny ahead of Utah primary

Ahead of the 2022 Utah Primary election, clerks Salt Lake and Utah counties are reporting more poll watchers are serving as watchdogs.
4 months ago
Utahns could get a tax cut....
LINDSAY AERTS AND KIRA HOFFELMEYER

Utah Senate passes a tax cut for Utahns, Gov. Cox says he will sign it

The Utah Senate just unanimously passed a bill, giving Utahns a big tax cut. People in the state could see $193 million back in taxes.
8 months ago
utah poll unfavorable to president biden...
Mary Richards

New poll shows low favorability in Utah for President Biden

The Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll shows that 45% of Utah residents have a favorable opinion of President Joe Biden, while 3% aren’t sure.
2 years ago
Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., read the final certifica...
LISA MASCARO, ERIC TUCKER, MARY CLARE JALONICK and ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press

Biden win confirmed after violent pro-Trump protestors storms US Capitol

Congress has confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner, hours after violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol.
2 years ago
president trump trial...
ZEKE MILLER and JILL COLVIN Associated Press

Trump says his term is ending, transition will be orderly

President Donald Trump says there will be an “orderly transition on January 20th” now that Congress has concluded the electoral vote count certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
2 years ago
(Some of the flags and signs outside the Utah State Capitol.  Credit: Paul Nelson)...
Paul Nelson

Hundreds participate in “Stop The Steal” rally at Utah State Capitol

Hundreds of President Trump’s supporters in Utah gather on the Capitol grounds to protest what they call the stealing of the presidential election. 
2 years ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Pandemic forces university officials to adapt, change VP debate plan