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FAIRBORN - Wright State president David Hopkins announced Tuesday the university has withdrawn from hosting the first presidential debate in September.
He said Tuesday that Wright State is withdrawing as host of first presidential debate scheduled for Sept. 26, citing escalating costs for security and the inability to raise enough money.
Hopkins said in an exclusive interview that he was motivated in part by security concerns raised by the recent attack in Nice, France.
“I can’t assure the safety of our students and the community,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins informed the Commission on Presidential Debates at noon Tuesday, and hopes to recoup at least some of the $2 million fee that was paid to the commission in advance. Approximately $500,000 had been spent already on Nutter Center upgrades.
The university has raised about $3.5 million in contributions, state funding and in-kind pledges.
Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, was listed as the debate’s backup site.
The Commission on Presidential Debates posted this announcement on its website:
“In light of Wright State University’s announcement of earlier today, the September 26, 2016 Presidential Debate will be held at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The Commission very much appreciates Wright State’s efforts. Hofstra University served very successfully as a presidential debate site in 2012. On September 23, 2015, the Commission announced that Hofstra University had agreed to serve as an alternate site this debate cycle if needed. The Commission looks forward to working with Hofstra once again.”
The president of Wright State’s faculty union, Martin Kich, said canceling the debate was probably for the best.
“I think It’s unfortunate we’ve gotten two months away from it and we have to pull the plug on it. I don’t think that makes anyone look good," Kich said. "But if the alternative is we would be left with a sizeable financial liability because of this, then I think it’s the smart thing to do,” he said.
Kich said he felt the university was low-balling what the debate was actually going to cost.
“Under ideal circumstances, I think it would be a nice thing for the university to host this kind of an event, but given the financial issues the university is grappling with, from the start this seemed like a kind of dubious proposition.”