Residence halls host debate viewing parties
Live viewings of the first 2016 Presidential Debate were held in several residence halls around campus Sept. 26.
The debate was streamed in Park and DeHority residence halls, as well as several others, and the viewing parties were a collaboration between the RAs, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and the Student Government Association.
RHA president Shelby Ward said it was an important event to air for students, especially since it was the first big debate of the election season between the two candidates.
“We really wanted students to be educated because this election is very important,” Ward said. “It’s a great time to get involved and be informed, active citizens, and we wanted to play a hand in that and make sure that our student body is informed and ready to vote.”
At DeHority, a popcorn machine provided free snacks as roughly 100 students and residents piled into the room before the start of the debate. A few half-hearted cheers emerged as the candidates were introduced to the stage once the event officially began.
In the first half of the debate, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton received applause when she mentioned increasing the minimum wage, closing the gender pay gap and having the wealthy pay their fair share.
Donald Trump received similar cheers when he accused Clinton of lying and hiding from her email scandal, claiming that he knew how to bring jobs back to the country.
However, some students were disappointed in the lack of constructive conversation about important issues, with climate change being one of the big topics students wanted to hear more about.
“Both candidates are attacking each other and not answering the questions that are being asked,” Thomas Smith, a freshman psychology major, said. “They should really focus more on the issues instead of attacking each other and pointing out useless, unimportant facts.”
Anna McAtee, a freshman majoring in English and law, said she also disliked the tone of the debate, wishing there would have been more moderation.
“I think it was what I expected," McAtee said, "It was just bantering and being really rude about the other person.”
Another student watching the debate at the event, freshman speech pathology major Maggie Henning, said she too thought a lot if important topics weren't covered by either of the candidates."
“I feel like the questions were avoided a lot, and it didn’t stay on track very well," Henning said. "There was a lot of immaturity."
Despite some of the student disappointment with how the progression of debate carried on, Jim Hague, assistant director for student leadership at Park Hall, said he was excited that the student organizations were taking a lead with the event, allowing students to express their opinions together while watching the candidates live.
“This is a topic that many students and community members are interested in, so let’s bring people together to have some conversation in a constructive, hopefully positive, way moving forward,” Hague said.
The next presidential debate is scheduled for Oct. 9, and RHA is planning to host a similar viewing party, Ward said.