Political science department hosts debate watch party

Students came together Monday night to attend a watch party for the first presidential debate of the 2016 election. Te event was put on in the Center for Global Citizenship by Saint Louis University’s political science department, who held a screening of the debate in the C. S. Huh Auditorium. About 400 students attended.

Students heard from representatives for several politically oriented groups on campus, including the College Republicans, the College Democrats and the political roundtable preceding the debate itself. Political science professor Dr. Steven Rogers spoke briefly about the psychology of debatewatching as well. A number of the organizations set up information booths surrounding the red and blue round tables that made up the watch space.

“I personally liked the setup,” said attendee Celia Hall. “I think the tables, rather than chairs in rows or something like that, made it more of a social and communal event.”

Another attendee, Kenzie Dye, had a similar response. “I think the CGC is a good place for watch parties both because of the floor space and seating above, and the big screen.,” Dye said. “I thought it was really nice how there were real-time tweets from relevant figures like Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein projected in the back of the room. I found myself looking at those fairly often.”

Both Hall and Dye said they enjoyed the snacks and the debate bingo game as well.

“I would definitely consider attending the next few watch parties,” Dye said. “Going to the watches, as opposed to watching the debate at home, makes the debate a more social and engaging experience.”

One of the groups that spoke at the event was TurboVote, an organization that aims to encourage as many people as possible to vote on Election Day.

The group focuses especially on making sure people are registered to vote. It was mentioned at the watch party that the percentage of students who voted dropped from 50% in the 2012 presidential election to 18% in the 2014 midterm elections.

The Department of Political Science expressed hope that the number of student voters will rise dramatically this year. The high attendance might indicate that this goal could potentially be reached.

“I was extremely surprised at the turnout,” Hall said. “I imagined only the groups with tables set up and political science students would attend. I was very proud of my fellow SLUdents for coming.”

Dye was less surprised. “I thought that there was a strong turnout, but that was what I expected because of the hype and controversy around this election. I think that, as well as the personalities of the candidates, drew a crowd that was bigger than what a typical presidential debate would draw.”

The TurboVote representatives also mentioned that anyone who lives on campus can now register and have the opportunity to vote at the Busch Student Center this November.

“I’m doing my best to stay involved since this is my first opportunity to vote in a presidential election,” Hall said. “I definitely do plan on attending the other debate parties.”

The remaining watch parties are scheduled for Oct. 4, 9, and 19.