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Amid optimism about labor dispute, LMU preparing for debate

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New debate sign

LMU continues to prepare for Thursday's Democratic debate. The event has been complicated by a labor dispute between Sodexo and Unite Here Local 11. 

Despite all seven candidates threatening to drop out over the labor dispute between Sodexo and the union representing food service workers on campus, the DNC presidential debate is still set to take place at LMU on Thursday.

Tomorrow, Unite Here! Local 11 and Sodexo are scheduled to meet to continue negotiations on  workers’ contracts, which expired in April. DNC Chairman Tom Perez told Politico that he is “optimistic that there will be a resolution.”

On Dec. 14, ASLMU Vice President Emily Sinsky tweeted that ASLMU has a “resolution/open letter … to come.”

In the meantime, Gersten Pavilion and its surrounding area are under immense construction. The construction staging area in Hannon field is now surrounded by large banners bearing statistics about LMU and other promotional materials. Gersten and Burns Rec Center are covered in huge signs welcoming attendees to the debate. 

Tickets for the event, which are provided by the DNC and PBS, were in high demand. “We are pleased to share that students will receive four times more tickets than any other constituency,” LMU said in an email. “LMU’s total ticket allocation is still very limited, and we are prioritizing faculty tickets after students.”

Over 500 volunteers signed up to work at the debate, according to the email. They will serve as stand-ins for candidates during rehearsals, provide support in media areas, and assist guest in the debate hall, amongst other jobs. LMU faculty will also be present in media areas to serve as experts in interviews. One student will also sing the national anthem at the debate. 

Additionally, PBS will interview and feature first-time voters (primarily LMU students) in their pre-debate coverage, according to University administration sources

Only select groups will be allowed on campus on the day of the event and the intersection at Loyola Blvd. and 80th Street will be completely closed to all traffic. All individuals allowed on campus will have either a placard or credential, according to the email.

Among other debate tidbits and news:

  • The debate stage was constructed in New York City and then shipped to LMU, according to University administration sources. 

  • More than 600 credited media will gather at Otis College on Thursday before moving toward Gersten after going through security checks.

  • The Freedom of Speech area will be located along Lincoln Blvd.

  • The Debate will be simulcast on CNN, CNN International and CNN Espanol

  • Hundreds of security personnel -- including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Secret Service and private security will be on campus.

  • At least 11 members of Unite Here gathered in President Snyder’s office earlier today in a “prayerful delegation,” according to their Twitter

The Loyolan will have three reporters in the Debate Hall covering the event as it happens as well as interviewing candidates and their representatives before and after the debate. Follow us on social media (@LALoyolan) or visit our website to keep up with our coverage.

Jacob Cornblatt is a junior film, television, and media studies major who watches a movie every day. He enjoys laying in a hammock under a palm tree, longing for the suffocating humidity of Gaithersburg, MD.

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