HEMPSTEAD, Long Island (WABC) -- There was an electric feeling on the Hofstra University campus in the days leading up to when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go head-to-head inside Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex, and being a witness to history -- particularly when it comes to what has been dubbed the Super Bowl of politics -- was not lost on the students and staff at the school.
"I'm a freshman, (and) I had no idea any of this was happening," student Katherine Anderson said. "So to be here for this is kind of cool."
Several hundred students won a lottery to be inside the debate hall, and they lined up Monday afternoon to get their tickets. But don't be fooled by their age. These kids understand the issues, and they'll be watching both candidates closely.
"I know that there's a lot of back and forth between them, so it would be nice to hear what each of them stands for," student Victoria Gonzalez said.
Join the Eyewitness News team live tonight at 8:00 p.m. from Hofstra University as we countdown to the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Students with Black Lives Matter made their presence known on campus, and they want to hear the candidates discuss their movement.
"I feel like it's something that's been pushed to the side," student Nandi Piper said. "But we're still here, and we're still fighting for black lives."
Hofstra is the only university to host three consecutive presidential debates.
"When I found out this was going on, I almost threw my boyfriend's phone," student Madison Wright said. "Because I'm like, this isn't happening for a third time."
Marie Pepe, from New Hyde Park, was at Hofstra on Sunday with her family - her son goes to Queens College, and her daughter is considering going to Hofstra.
"I really wanted them to see this," she said. "They were hesitant, but I dragged them, and now they're happy they came."
Many of the students are volunteering with the debate and are helping the many journalists who are on campus plan watch parties and panel discussions.
Dwight Spencer is a freshman who believes having the debate is a game-changer, particularly for his class, many of whom are first-time voters.
"It pushes students a little bit more," he said. "(To) see individuals asking if students have voted, and you hear people saying, 'Yes, I have,' or 'I'm voting absentee.'"
However, for now, they are watching, listening and taking it all in.
"This is probably the only moment when we will have everyone set aside political opinion and be immersed with what is happening at our school," student Mariam Chubinidzhe said. null
Hofstra campus sizzles with excitement ahead of presidential debate