|Senior relives 2000 VP debate
RELEASED: April 29, 2004
DANVILLE, KYSenior Anne Ledford was a freshman when the 2000 vice presidential debate came to Centre College in the fall of 2000. Here is her take on what CBS news anchor Dan Rather called a "the finest vice presidential debate ever held."
It was the beginning of our college careers, and we were excited to be at the best school in Kentucky and one of the top colleges in the country. Hosting the only vice presidential debate in the nation was icing on the cake.
Our school was going to be on all the major network news stationsand we were right in the middle of it.
To be a freshman on Centre's campus the week of Oct. 5, 2000, was as exciting as walking in the middle of Times Square for the first time.
Now seniors, when we look back at that time, we recall the police on horses guarding College Street and the Norton Center and the secret service men with their crisp black suits and ear pieces talking into their hands. We remember seeingand in some cases, meetingthe two candidates for vice president that year, Sen. Joe Lieberman and secretary Dick Cheney.
When underclassmen bring up parking woes, we remember parking miles away and being shuttled back to campus. And who can forget those lanyards that seemed to weigh more and more around our necks as the week progressed?
"It brought a lot of attention to us and heightened overall political awareness," says senior psychobiology major Brittany Andriot. "Everyone was involved in some manner."
Whether it was campaigning, protesting, registering voters, assisting the media, building a Habitat House that the candidates' families visited or attempting to rent out your dorm room on eBay (as Lucas Chesnut '03 did), everyone seemed to have a part to play. The debate gave our campus a common purpose and catalyzed our class to jump feet-first into campus life. The sense of community was so high that week it was contagious.
"The debate integrated our class into campus life quickly," says Nate Olson, a senior double major in government and history. "We grew up fast."
The debate also provided some amazing experiences. Olson got the chance to work closely with Sen. Lieberman's debate team, which included Sen. Tom Daschle and Sen. Wendell Ford.
Almost every senior has a vivid debate memory. My highlight was shaking the hand of George Stephanopoulosthen a reporter for ABC News and a former senior advisor in the Clinton White Housein the upper wings of Newlin Hall minutes before show timea moment that crystallized my dreams of news reporting.
Whether riding the yellow school bus that transported those with tickets to the debate, being filmed on CNN, or sitting on the lawn of Old Centre watching the debate on the JumboTron TV screen, we all experienced some sort of "collective effervescence" that night. As I learned later in my intro sociology class, the term describes the emotional bond a group shares during an intense event. While some of our memories of that day may be a little fuzzy for us aging seniors, the bond we formedwith each other and with the Centre communityis as strong as ever.
The debate will always be something special to those of us who experienced it, and we won't let the lessons we learned from it be forgotten after graduation.
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