Saint Mary's is used to media attention, especially after last spring's Sweet 16 appearance, but this time it was different. For a couple of days surrounding the U.S. Senate candidates' debate on Sept. 1, the media made the campus their home.
It didn't hurt that Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Republican challenger Carly Fiorina - both high-profile, controversial public figures - were locked in a dead heat before the showdown.
KTVU Randy Shandobil moderated the debate, and questions were posed by San Francisco Chronicle senior political writer Carla Marinucci, KQED Radio California Report host Scott Shafer, and La Opinion senior political reporter Pilar Marrero.
While the candidates sparred over social and economic issues inside LeFevre Theatre, dozens of TV, print and Internet reporters followed the debate on a huge projection screen and tapped away at their laptops inside a dedicated media room set up in Soda Center.
Among them were familiar names and faces like Cheryl Hurd of KNTV, Phil Matier and Andy Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle, Mark Matthews of KGO-TV, Josh Richman of the Bay Area News Group, Doug Sovern from KCBS Radio, and many more.
Outside, an armada of semi-trailers mounted with satellite dishes filled the parking lot, and a tangle of cable for audio and video feeds snaked from the lot to a line of TV cameras set up in the Soda Center to film Boxer and Fiorina when they swept in for their post-debate wrap-ups.
Long after the debate, TV spotlights glowed late into the night as reporters filed live reports for evening newscasts and "spin doctors" tried to put the best face on their candidate's performance.
Students couldn't help noticing how the College grabbed a co-starring role in the coverage. Trevor Condon, a senior sociology major who watched the debate, said: "Saint Mary's looked awesome."
Even the media had good things to say about the College. One reporter told a staff member, "You guys did a good job. You know if you messed up, I'd cover it, but you didn't."