The Kendall Campus gymnasium will take center stage in the political arena on March 9 as it hosts the only Democratic debate in South Florida. The debate takes place just six days before the Florida Presidential Preference Primary Election on March 15.
“The fact this major event is taking place at MDC speaks to two main issues,” said Juan Mendieta, Director of Communication at the College. “The first is that Miami Dade College is truly a gem in our community and nation, respected across America as a national model of excellence for its quality and access. Secondly, much like many sitting U.S. Presidents, countless government officials and heads of state who’ve visited MDC, the candidates debating know that at Miami Dade College they can touch the people, the real future of America.”
The faceoff at MDC between Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton will be hosted by the Miami-based Spanish language news network Univision and The Washington Post. At the event, other media will work in the cafeteria, which will be transformed into a dedicated filing room. A live audience of more than 1,000 people have been invited by the candidates’ campaigns.
Univision has requested Miami Dade College provide 200 student, staff and faculty volunteers who will be assisting as greeters, crowd control, parking attendants and ticket takers. A small number of volunteers will be inside the venue serving as ushers.
The volunteer response has exceeded its expectation already with 231 volunteers: 161 students, 28 faculty, and 42 staff coming to aid MDC, according to Josh Young, Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy (iCED) director. Young is spearheading the volunteer effort.
“They will be part of history,” Young said. “It’s the only Democratic Primary Debate that will be hosted in Florida. They’ll be contributing an important event in our democracy and they’ll be helping Miami Dade College demonstrate to the world what a great institution it is.”
The MDC event follows a February 11 debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a March 6 debate in Flint, Michigan. Dozens of states hold their primaries in February and March.
Clinton bested Sanders in the Iowa Caucus by three points. In the New Hampshire primary Sanders bested Clinton winning 60 percent of the vote. In Nevada, Clinton beat Sanders. Polls are showing Sanders edging above Clinton in public opinion.
“From what I read, I would vote for Bernie Sanders because of his plan for college education,” said Danny Giraud, a Kendall Campus student. “That’s important to me because as an early childhood education major, I worry about my own students and their futures as they go on to college.”