After Mike Gibbons, a Republican candidate for Ohio's open U.S. Senate seat, used Memorial Stadium to record a commercial, students have expressed mixed feelings about the use of Otterbein facilities by political entities.
In 2021, Gibbons filmed his campaign commercial, "Safer and Stronger," on various school properties in November before the commercial released in December. One of those schools was Otterbein University, where a blurred-out glimpse of DeVore Hall can be seen in the last shot of the commercial.
His more recent commercial, "Ballots and Borders," prominently featured Otterbein's Memorial Stadium.
Otterbein is no stranger to allowing politicians to use campus facilities. In 2012, Otterbein hosted a campaign event for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and in 2019, the university held the National Democratic Presidential Debate.
“Sometimes we do get requests from politicians to use our space,” Director of Events and Conferences Matthew D’Oyly said. “We even have student groups ask candidates to come to campus as part of their student organization."
While facility rental policies aim to keep our campus impartial and inclusive, that’s not how some students see it. For some, it appears questionable to let politicians use the facilities.
“There’s an importance of the university having an atmosphere of not choosing a political side and respecting diversity of opinions at Otterbein,” freshman Kevin Bray said. “Financially speaking, it’s a good thing, but it should be all or nothing because you can’t pick and choose who we want to affiliate with our facilities.”
D’Oyly explained that the individual renting the space is not the deciding factor for who or what we can accommodate. Every facility has its own requirements that vary depending on the building and the length of time it's used. These are the justifications for each rental decision Otterbein makes.
“Politicians from both parties have rented our facilities,” D’Oyly said. “As a university, we do not endorse candidates.”