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Christa Levko ’12 Attends Presidential Debate at Hofstra University
10.18.12 |

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Hofstra University notified its students via email on Oct. 14 of their selection by lottery to attend the presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on Oct. 16. Though Christa Levko ’12 had put her name in to attend, she didn’t get that email invitation.

“I was really bummed,” she said. “I knew the chances were slim, but I was hoping to get picked.”

But at 3:15 p.m. on the afternoon of the debate – while she was at home in her pajamas – Levko received an exciting email from the school.

“It said to be on campus between 4 and 4:30 p.m. because I had been selected as an alternate! I dropped everything, put on my suit, and rushed to campus. I actually got a little lost on the way there, because I only know where my academic buildings are. I hadn’t been to the debate site before but somehow I made it in time.”

Levko and 300 other students, community members, and politicos waited while security screened and admitted ticketed attendees into the hall. Levko was informed that she was “Alternate #5,” meaning that if five others did not show up in time, she would have a last-minute seat to the debate. After waiting anxiously for nearly three hours, at 6:55 p.m. – just two hours before the debate – the commission finally confirmed that Levko would get a ticket.

“Waiting for the debate to start was really exciting, almost surreal,” she said. “I sat between an Obama campaign worker and a Romney campaign worker in the seats behind the moderator Candy Crawley, and there was definitely tension in the room. But everyone was excited.”

Levko had already decided who she is going to vote for in this election, but she listened to both candidates with an open mind.

“I think Obama did a good job. Both candidates avoided answering the questions, and after a while I had to stop thinking about that and just focus on what they had to say. Romney’s response on the middle class and taxes was good, and I appreciated what he had to say, but some of his other responses really turned me off.”

Levko was hoping the candidates would address women’s and LGBT issues, and the candidates did address women’s issues when a town hall member asked about pay equality for women.

“Obama addressed and maintained his support for the Lilly Ledbetter Act, but Romney wouldn’t even acknowledge it.” In fact, it was during this exchange that Romney made the now famous remark that he had “binders full of women” when he was appointing members to his cabinet as Massachusetts governor.

Women’s issues were a hot-button topic for Levko while she was studying political science at LVC from 2008-2012. She participated in “The Vagina Monologues” performance at LVC every year, including serving as director during her senior year.

“Overall it was a great experience and I’m glad I had the opportunity to see the candidates speak in person,” she said.

Levko is a first-year law student with a full academic scholarship at Hofstra University and will pursue a career in public interest law. She hopes to work on social issues or with a non-profit organization after graduation in 2015.

For information about the election, please visit

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