Ole Miss Students Say ‘Hotty Toddy’ to Presidential Debate

As a Mississippian, I have been hearing about the first presidential debate of this election taking place at the University of Mississippi, commonly known as Ole Miss, since the day it was announced. As the time for the debate has gotten closer, Ole Miss students have felt a little bit frustrated and a lot more patriotic. Olivia Hines, a junior at Ole Miss, said it started out as a frustrating semester with secret service and security swarming the town that is typically quiet besides football weekends. She said it was “weird seeing the campus like this.” Her quick drive to class became a lot longer with closed roads and traffic this semester. Hines reported that after all the college town’s preperation, students have been nervous over recent talk to postpone the debate.

All of campus is adorned in red, white and blue. My friend Chelsea Moore did the donkey and elephant artwork on the boutique window in one of the photos below. All the sororities have large hand-painted banners in front of their large, antebellum type houses. “Its been all about the debate this semester,” Hines said.

As her frustration subsided, Hines says she is now “obsessed with the debate.” She said she has been glued to the news all of a sudden and is enjoying the famous faces around the small southern town (I noticed her Facebook status yesterday said “celebrity stalking”)! The Early Show attracted a large crowd of students this morning as it aired from the school’s union building. Hines also said Oprah had been spotted at the famous Bottletree Bakery on the town square.

The historical “grove,” where Ole Miss fans spend most football Saturdays eating, drinking, and enjoying time with friends and family(the Ole Miss take on tailgating) has become a hot spot for debate action. Today, a concert, “Rockin’ the Debate” is taking place and tonight a large screen will be set up airing the debate since its been difficult for many students to actually attend. Students have been encouraged to attend speakers, like Tom Brokaw, in order to enter a lottery to win tickets for tonight’s debate.

Hines said “this is a once in a lifetime experience and I don’t see why people would want to miss it when the students are so much a part of it.” Unlike her, most of my friends from Ole Miss are home this weekend, in Jackson, avoiding the crowd in Oxford but I don’t doubt that they will be watching tonight with pride as this historical event takes place at the university that they love.

“I hope that everyone who attends leaves having enjoyed southern hospitality while they were there,” my mother, who attended Ole Miss and met my dad there, told me. She said its exciting to have history made in Oxford especially during this election.

Hines said the media has loved every bit of the Ole Miss students starting chants with the school’s classic “are you readyy….” She said she would love for the candidates to give the crowd a “hotty toddy!” in spirit of the Ole Miss Rebels traditional school cheer. Perhaps those same words that cheered the famous Ole Miss quarterback, Eli Manning to the NFL will be cheering one of the candidates into the White House.

–Ashley Cirilli

Photos courtesy of Ole Miss students, Tara Sparks and Olivia Hines.

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