Virginia State University Will Be First HBCU to Host Presidential Debate

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Virginia State University will host the second presidential debate on Oct. 1, 2024.
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Published on November 22, 2023
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  • Texas State University will host the first debate, the University of Utah will host the last debate, and Lafayette College in Pennsylvania will host the vice presidential debate.
  • Virginia State University President Makola M. Abdullah said it is a historic moment for the university and historically Black colleges and universities nationwide.
  • Republican candidates Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, and former President Donald Trump have targeted higher education "wokeness" as part of their platforms.

Virginia State University (VSU) will be the first historically Black college and university (HBCU) to host a presidential debate for a U.S. general election.

As the country prepares for an election year, VSU announced on Nov. 20 that it will host the second 2024 presidential debate set for Oct. 1 in the VSU Multipurpose Center.

"We are honored and grateful to have been chosen as a host for a 2024 presidential debate," said VSU President Makola M. Abdullah. "This is a historic moment for our university and for HBCUs nationwide. Our university mantra is 'Greater Happens Here,' and we look forward to welcoming the candidates, the Commission on Presidential Debates, and the entire nation to the GREATER at VSU."

Texas State University will hold the first presidential debate on Sept. 16.

Lafayette College in Pennsylvania will hold the vice presidential debate on Sept. 25.

The University of Utah will hold the last presidential debate on Oct. 9.

Potential Republican presidential nominees include Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, Mike Pence, Tim Scott, former President Donald Trump, and Nikki Haley. One of them will likely run against President Joe Biden, who is hoping to secure a second term.

Candidates like Ramaswamy, DeSantis, and Trump have all targeted higher education reform as part of their "anti-wokeness" platforms.

"The United States' general election debates, watched live worldwide, are a model for many other countries: the opportunity to hear and see leading candidates address serious issues in a fair and neutral setting," said The Commission on Presidential Debates Co-Chairs Frank Fahrenkopf and Antonia Hernández in a release. "This tradition remains unbroken since 1976. In 2024, students at our four debate sites will help bring another set of historic conversations to audiences here and abroad. And their campuses will anchor four unique chances to listen and learn."

Virginia State University is also one of 16 HBCUs that have been inadequately funded by their state governments. On Sept. 18, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack sent letters to 16 state governors asking them to adequately fund their HBCUs.

The state of Virginia currently owes $227 million to the university. Tennessee owes Tennessee State University $2.1 billion, the largest amount.