Motivated by free pizza and a place for conversation, a crowd of students, faculty, staff and community members filled the Michel Student Center ballroom Monday evening to watch the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
The event was hosted by College Republicans and College Democrats, which worked together to spread the word and get campus interested in the debate.
“With this being an election year, I figured it was a very, very crucial time to get the campus as informed as possible,” Olga Krapivner, organizer of the event and member of College Republicans, said. “I just [wanted the viewers] to be more informed because most people don’t know who they want to vote for, and they just let the media choose a bias.”
Krapivner, a senior political science major, said she thought a watch party would be more engaging for students compared to watching the debate on their own.
Hannah Engel, a freshman civil engineering major, said she has never been to a debate watch party before attending Monday night’s event.
“It was interesting seeing how people reacted to what certain [candidates] said,” Engel said. “I think it’s great to have people, despite their differences, get together.”
And that’s exactly what Adam Sundling, president of College Democrats, said he wanted to accomplish with the watch party.
“That’s how we want to run our elections,” Sundling, a junior political science major, said. “We want people to be as involved as they can be. We don’t want to stop people from being involved, because that stops them from feeling included in the entire democratic process … They should feel like they can vote and feel empowered.”
Sundling said he’s been very interested in following this election cycle, especially as a political science major.
“These [candidates] would not be here if we didn’t think of them as the people we want up there,” Sundling said. “We put our votes into them in the primary system to say, ‘We want you to represent our country as best you can.’ [That] goes to show how the American people have evolved to this point.”
Engel agreed this was a particularly notable election.
“I honestly think it’s kind of … ludacris,” she said. “It’s just really crazy, and there are just really extreme views going each way … I think this is definitely the most interesting election we’ve had so far.”
The next presidential debate will take place Oct. 9.