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Student Volunteers At U Of U Helping With Prep For This Week's VP Debate

Matilyn Mortensen

The COVID-19 pandemic meant officials at The University of Utah had to significantly scale back opportunities for community and student involvement during this week’s Vice Presidential Debate. However, there is still a limited number of student volunteers participating in making the event happen.

“It's exciting. Even though this is a couple days before the debate, it's exciting to just be able to see the media and various credentialed people and get to interact with them a little bit,” said Hannah Pickett, a law student at The University of Utah. 

On Monday morning, her job was to stand outside of Kingsbury Hall, the location of Wednesday’s Vice Presidential debate, and make sure that only those with credentials entered the building. 

Pickett is one of the many U of U students volunteering their time to make the debate happen. The students on campus this week are doing things like greeting guests and providing transportation for media members. 

Vice President for Student Affairs Lori McDonald said these student opportunities were one reason officials at The U wanted to host the event. 

“It doesn't matter what your major is, doesn't matter what level you are there, there are ways to get involved and to be a part of this thing,” McDonald said. 

As part of those efforts to help as many students get involved, even amid pandemic precautions, McDonald said they have been utilizing the student leaders on campus to help them brainstorm virtual student activities.

These opportunities to be close to events that are key to democracy are important to Pickett. 

“I'm glad to be able to volunteer to make an event like this happen,” she said. “I think it's really important for people to be informed about the politicians that could potentially lead our country.”