November 6, 2012: Danville, Ky.— On Oct. 11, as many Americans tuned in to watch the Vice Presidential Debate, most of the brothers from Delta chapter couldn’t; they were too busy volunteering at it to sit in front of a TV.
With Centre set to host Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan for a debate, it turned to its student body to help facilitate the televised event. College Republicans Executive Vice President Benjamin Tudor, Centre ’11, was asked to recruit volunteers.
“I am incredibly proud of how well the student body came together and worked to put on a fantastic debate,” he said. “Interacting with members of the media, campaign staff and elected officials, Centre students did a great job of representing their school.”
Many of Tudor’s own chapter brothers were a part of the volunteer effort. Tudor said nearly 75 percent of the chapter helped in some way.
“Our brothers worked in every capacity during the debate,” he said. “Some of our members volunteered with the college as ushers in the debate hall, or in “catch-all” logistical tasks such as working the help desks. Myself and Jordan Shewmaker worked as liaisons to the campaigns, and pretty much did whatever they needed done in the weeks leading up to the debate. A couple of men also volunteered as surrogates with the campaigns following the event.”
Because of their roles with the debate, Tudor and Shewmaker, Centre ’11, took part in a local political show, “Kentucky Newsmakers.”
“As roommates, we’ve been arguing politics nonstop, but it was great to have the opportunity to come together and represent our college on a more public stage.”
This year was neither the first year Centre hosted a Vice Presidential Debate nor the first time Delta helped with it. Centre hosted the 2000 Vice Presidential Debate and Delta bothers were among the volunteers.
“The men at Delta believe strongly in participating in the democratic process and giving back, and the debate afforded us the opportunity to do both at the same time,” said Wes Fugate, Centre ’99. “While we all had differing political views, we knew it was important for us as a chapter to unite to make sure that Centre made the debate as successful as possible.”
In 2000, Delta was asked to physically exert more than just holding up signs.
“I believe the Saturday before the debate, another student organization had failed to show up to help install security fencing around campus, so the department of public safety immediately turned to the men of Phi Kappa Tau to assist,” Fugate said. “As you can imagine, not many college students are up super early on a Saturday morning, so we woke up any and all brothers we could find to help with the project. I was unbelievably proud that the college knew that our chapter was the group they needed to turn to in a time of need. That vote of confidence demonstrated to me that the men of Delta were indeed living our lives in accordance to the values and ritual of Phi Kappa Tau.”
Fugate’s role in the 2000 debate was more than just a fond memory.
“Participating in such an important event for our nation, and indeed, the world, had a profound effect on my life,” he said. “While I had been somewhat active in politics prior to this point, my involvement in the debate eventually launched my political career. Because of the experiences of working the debate and the connections I made while at Centre, I eventually went on to work on behalf of the President and Vice President and served as the deputy chief of staff to the Governor of Kentucky.”
The experience even became a talking point for Fugate while he worked for Vice President Dick Cheney four years later.
Maybe one day Tudor will be able to use his experience during this year’s debate as a talking point too.
“I got to see a different side of politics, but that just made me want to be a part of the system, on some level, even more,” he said.