UNF student volunteers help ready the campus for a debate

Hali Harden

By: Hali Harden, Contributing Writer


Photo by Keri Weiland.


With the buzz starting over this year’s UNF-hosted GOP debate, some students are doing more than just talking.

CNN has reached out to acquire several UNF student-volunteers for the Jan. 26 debate. Volunteers will assist CNN with projects before, during and after the debate to help with production.

Joanna Norris, UNF associate director of public relations, is coordinating students who will be lending a hand with the press file room and spin room.

Norris said the press file room is where more than 275 journalists from around the world, including The New York Times, Associated Press, Washington Post, Jacksonville media and international journalists, will watch the debate and conduct news stories throughout the day.

The spin room is reserved for credentialed media to ask candidates, or their top advisers, questions after the debate.

Norris said volunteers will help the public relations personnel from CNN set up the rooms Jan. 25. They will help assemble the rooms, and the day of the debate, they will also assist CNN with anything they may be asked to do: escort and answer questions for the media, move boxes, make banners and whatever else CNN may require of them.

Norris said she reached out to professors in the communication department to recruit volunteers. Norris said she thought this would be a great chance for communication students to get real life experience since they will get the opportunity to work hands-on with CNN.

Two of the students chosen to volunteer said they are excited to get started.

Whitney Croxton, a UNF public relations senior, said she was looking forward to lending a hand at the debate because she really wanted “the view from the back,” which is the production process from behind the scenes.

Croxton said two of her communication instructors, Stephynie Perkins and Bobbi Reid Dogget, reached out to her via email informing her about the GOP debate volunteer opportunity.

“I think that it’s a great opportunity to put myself out there in a world that’s all about public relations and communication,” Croxton said.

Croxton said she is grateful for the opportunity to help out with the debate as well as introduce guests to UNF and Jacksonville.

UNF Communication Professor Marcia Ladendorff notified Margi Castro, a UNF journalism major, about the opportunity to volunteer. Castro will also be volunteering with Croxton in the press file and spin room.

Castro said she was delighted to have the chance to work hands on with CNN, and through volunteering, she hopes to learn more about production. She also hopes to have a career in broadcasting and believes working with CNN will give her useful experience and an opportunity to network.

The debate on campus will provide students with a glimpse of the GOP candidates’ views and stances, but students who chose to volunteer for the event will gain more than the average student.


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