Countdown to the presidential debate in Wait Chapel; Wake Forest makes final preparations

With the presidential debate just days away, Wake Forest University is making final preparations for the highly anticipated Oct. 11 event in Wait Chapel.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, construction crews began work on the candidates’ stage at the front of the chapel. An additional air-conditioning unit was installed on the roof of the chapel to keep the candidates cool during the debate. Two vents-one directed at each candidate-will keep the stage temperature in the 60s.

The chapel balcony, home to radio and television networks, has 10 broadcast platforms. Construction on the platforms and installation of special lighting equipment will continue through late Sunday.

To accommodate for broadcast equipment and platform construction, 700 seats have been removed from the chapel’s balcony and ground floor. Twenty additional seats will be removed Sunday. The Commission on Presidential Debates has not announced how many seats will be available for debate attendees.

Representatives from both campaigns as well as some television networks have arrived on campus to meet with the Commission and the university’s debate planning committee. Some work spaces for these groups are still being finalized.

Benson University Center, the media headquarters for the debate, begins operation on Monday, Oct. 9. Preparations in the Benson Center have included placement of approximately 200 tables, 800 chairs, 600 phone lines and 70 televisions. Some telephone and electronic wiring may continue into Sunday afternoon.

Preparation begins today on the media rooms in Reynolda Hall. Wiring and other work will continue through Monday. Six television networks will use space in this building as their temporary headquarters during the debate.

Landscaping crews have planted more than 1,000 mums across campus and have spread fresh mulch around the trees on the Quad. The Quad area has also been lined with university-designed presidential debate banners. A total of 150 banners have been hung around campus and along the streets of Winston-Salem.

The university’s campus access and parking plan will go into effect at 10 p.m. tonight, and remain in effect until noon on Thursday, Oct. 12. It is part of an overall security plan implemented by the university in cooperation with the Secret Service. During this time, University Police personnel will staff the gatehouses at the university’s Reynolda Road and University Parkway entrances. Everyone is asked to carry their Wake Forest ID or other forms of photo identification while on campus.

At 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, public access to campus will end. It will resume at noon on Thursday, Oct. 12. The campus will be open only to its students, faculty and staff, as well as the news media and registered guests of the university during this time.

The university has assigned an area for registered demonstrators to gather during the debate. The area is located near the University Parkway entrance to campus.

Most university students, faculty and staff will park off-campus during this time, to allow for media and other debate-related parking. Some on-campus parking for residential students and for various groups directly involved with the debate is available.

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