Raising Kean: Hosting debate will raise university’s profile

The Wilkins Theatre will host the Lieutenant Governor debate on Oct. 11

The Wilkins Theatre will host the Lieutenant Governor debate on Oct. 11
Photo Credit: Carl Stoffers

By Carl Stoffers

With the general election rapidly approaching, Kean University will host a debate between incumbent Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno and challenger Milly Silva on Oct. 11 at the Wilkins Theater.

The event will pit Guadagno, a protege of Governor Chris Christie who also serves as Secretary of State, against Silva, a union leader on the Democratic ticket with Barbara Buono.

It will also raise the university’s profile, as the eyes of New Jersey’s political press will be focused on the campus Friday night.

The debate promises to be an intense one, as the state both candidates are vying to serve has rarely been more polarized. The issues that Guadagno and Silva will discuss are numerous, including unemployment, gay marriage and the economy.

It follows Wednesday night’s contentious contest between Christie and Buono, in which the underdog attempted to chip away at the governor’s double-digit lead in the polls.

Despite the deep divide in New Jersey politics, some Kean students not only don’t plan on attending the debate, but aren’t even aware it is happening.

“There’s a football game friday night,” said William, a Kean sophomore who asked that his last name be withheld. “I don’t follow politics, but I do follow football, so that’s where I’ll be.”

The lack of knowledge and excitement about the debate among the student body could be due to the fact that the lieutenant governor’s position carries no official power, other than to function as second in order of succession after the governor.

“I’m not really sure what the lieutenant governor does,” said junior Marykate Glackin. “It seems like one of those redundant positions in government.”

Still, some Kean students have strong opinions about the gubernatorial race, as well as state politics.

“I think it’s ironic that the debate is being held here,” said sophomore Infini McNeill. “Because the Christie administration seems to be anti-education and there is a lack of funding for educational programs in New Jersey.”

Regardless of political leanings, Kean’s hosting of the debate elevates its standing in the political and educational landscape of New Jersey. Recent events, such as the Governor’s Ball held at Liberty Hall last spring, have also contributed to this effort.

“Overall, I think it’s pretty cool that Kean hosts an event like this,” said Glackin. “It really raises awareness of the school and its significance.”

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