Debate offers students a chance to be a part of history

OXFORD, MS (WMC-TV) - Don Cole has just about seen it all at Ole Miss, and for him, Friday's presidential debate means life has come full circle.

As Ole Miss Provost, Cole's office is in the same building where James Meredith took his first classes. Tuesday, Cole said he can't believe the campus is again making history by hosting the first debate in what could be the most historic presidential election in history.

"I've kind of watched us take out the pad, get the pencils ready, get the circumference ready to draw the circle," he said.

Cole has been at the University for 40 years, first as a student, and now as a teacher and academic leader.  For Cole, Friday's debate means Ole Miss has conquered another milestone.

"When I got here in '68, I was under the impression that all parts of the University had been integrated, but that was not the case," he said.

In his classes, Cole can now teach a message of change and equality.  His students take that message with them.

"I believe we are all working together for a common cause," freshman Joanna Younger said.

Sophomore John Michael Belk agreed.

"I think people have adopted and realized we all need to work together instead of working against each other," Belk said.

That message of unity is something Cole and his students hope will continue long after Friday's debate.

"To have them realize that much is going to be on their shoulders. The problems we can't solve are going to be the ones we will leave for them to solve," Cole said. 
Cole said he plans to watch Friday's debate.  He has been telling his students to also take advantage of the opportunity by enjoying this time and preparing for the next.

Click here to e-mail Justin Hanson.