First presidential debate sparks student opinions

October 18th, 2016

As it was arguably one of the most important events of the 2016 election season, the John Carroll University Debate Team held a viewing of the first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump on Sept. 26.

The event was held in the LSC Conference Room in the D.J. Lombardo Student Center at 9 p.m. It was an event in congruence with the Carroll initiative called #StreaktheVote. The initiative itself is an attempt to bring students to the voting booth this coming November.

Assistant Director and Coordinator of liturgy for campus ministry, Gail Roussey, said, “We wanted to encourage students to come to debate to be inspired to register and to vote. It is important for young people to have their voices heard.”

In addition to Roussey, Communication professor and Director of debate, Brent Brossmann, were all contributors to the planning of the event as a part of a series of events to be held at JCU for this initiative.

Brossmann said, “It is an initiative to help get people to vote. I think that Presidential debates are important and I want students to see the process to understand what is happening. Debates are one of the few times that we see candidates answering the same questions.”

As the debate began, it was evident that students were unafraid to show their reactions to both Clinton and Trump’s remarks regarding each other and their plans for the presidency. Certain issues that were covered by the debate included race, foreign policy, nuclear proliferation and economics. However, it was their remarks about one another that students seemed to react to the most strongly.

From the hurling of insults such as “Trumped up” trickle down politics to Hillary’s “lack of stamina” and the revival of skeletons in both closets, students and faculty all had reactions of amusement andwere clearly engaged by the banter of the two candidates.

While these insults between candidates seemed to rile viewers, it was when the debate itself cut out for a few moments due to technical difficulties that left the crowd on the edge of their seats, wondering if the program would return.

At the end of the debate, members of the Carroll community had a variety of reactions to what they had just witnessed.

Freshman Kevin Schleitwiler said, “It was more of a comedy show.”

“It was hardly a win for either candidate. Neither looked good. It was more mudslinging than policy driven,” said freshman Steven Andreano.

Junior Kailynn Donati said, “I think Trump made himself look ridiculous. He didn’t answer the questions.”

“Trump said he had a winning temperament, but in the last hour and a half, he proved himself wrong,” said junior Jonathan Gonzalez.

Junior Rachael Chahoud said, “Trump reminds me of Kim Kardashian.”

“I can’t believe this is actually happening in front of me. In previous elections, I would not watch, but now everyone is interested and the whole world is watching. It is terrifying,” added junior Amy Kato.

Senior Victoria Rogers said, “Donald Trump made himself look bad. Hillary Clinton dominated the debate. I like what she had to say about education.”

In addition to members of the Carroll community, members of the JCU Debate Team had their own feedback about the debate.

Freshman Thomas Russo said, “Donald Trump had little substance to his arguments. His plans were vague.”

“Trump never answered the questions. He had a focus on foreign policy while she focused more on domestic policy,” said sophomore Mariella van der Sluijs.

Freshman Noah Paulsen said, “[It was] interesting. They focused too much on issues that didn’t matter. I don’t believe the moderator did a great job, but Clinton held her own and so did Trump.”

The event helped bring awareness to the 2016 presidential campaign for members of the Carroll community and to the Cleveland area as Fox 8 News made an appearance to cover the watch party.

There will be more watch parties in the future for all presidential debates and vice presidential debates to continue with the #StreaktheVote initiative.

There will also be a student-led interfaith panel focusing on the election on Oct. 17.