Barnes & Noble College Sponsors Student Debate Day at Hofstra University

October 17, 2012
President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney shake hands before the start of the second 2012 presidential debate at Hofstra University.


As only the second university to ever host back-to-back presidential debates, Hofstra University was center stage, once again, as President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney squared off in the second 2012 presidential debate on Tuesday night.

Embrace the Debate

Alice Gunther and other Hofstra University students watch the debate in the student center, one of four Debate Day locations from which students could watch the debate.

Barnes & Noble College, which operates the Hofstra University Bookstore, co-sponsored student Debate Day programs and on-campus events – held to encourage student participation in the election process. For those students who did not win a “golden ticket” – the coveted admission into Debate Hall – students could choose various locations on campus to watch the debate live. At each location, students received a 2012 debate t–shirt and enjoyed snacks, giveaways and prizes.

“One of our student bookstore employees won a ticket into the debate,” said Hofstra University Bookstore Manager Steve Babbitt. “For the rest of the students, we helped sponsor four different locations on campus for students to gather and watch the debate. We really wanted the students to feel a part of this event. For many of them, this will be the first presidential election they vote in.”

Each of the four venues set up around campus had its own theme: Create, Celebrate, Educate and Commemorate. At each site, students participated in interactive and creative activities, played political trivia games, listened to student a cappella group performances, created debate memories in a photo booth and more.

Pride, Politics and Policy

Plenty of on-campus excitement led up to the debates, including a Pride, Politics and Policy lecture series, which featured distinguished speakers Cornell West, Chris Matthews, Karl Rove, Jeb Bush and others.

“Hofstra had some wonderful and engaging guest speakers leading up to the debates,” added Babbitt. “So, we were thrilled to help coordinate the book signings that accompanied each appearance – everything from setting displays, promoting the event and providing the authors’ books. We’ve been very busy this fall.”


The 2012 Presidential Debate display table in the Hofstra University Bookstore.

In anticipation of the big night, Babbitt and his staff set up debate-themed signs and created a promotional table stocked with 2012 debate t-shirts, hats and mugs. The t-shirts proved so popular they sold out before the debate and had to be reordered. Babbitt also worked closely with Barnes & Noble College to create a Facebook sweepstakes in which Hofstra students entered to win a NOOK® by sharing the issues of greatest importance to them on the Hofstra University Bookstore Facebook page.

“It’s been great to be a part of this whole process,” Babbitt enthused. “The first debate here was exciting, but this has definitely topped it. I hope we can host it again in 2016!”

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