- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 04 November 2015
- Written by JAMILAH MCMILLAN | ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR
The Political Science Club, and the Political Science Department sponsored their third presidential debate watch party on Oct. 28. About 30 students gathered in Magill Commons to watch the Republican candidates debate.
Catherine Bartch, a professor of the Political Science Department, has organized the debate watch parties hosted this semester. She has spearheaded three thus far, and she assumes that there will be others including one for the general elections.
At the viewing Bartch was impressed with the student turnout. “It is really refreshing to see all of these students here,” she said. “Studies keep saying that students especially millennials are just not engaged in politics or that they’re apathetic, but our debate parties really show evidence contrary to that, because the first one had about 80, the second one had about 25, and here we have over 30 students. I mean sure, we would love all four thousand or more students to show up but it is still great to see such a large crowd come out for these debates,” she continued.
Students sat with friends and classmates and food was served while a screen displayed the live stream of the debate.
Salma Hammouda, a senior political science student, said “I really liked the atmosphere of the last debate party. It was very casual and all the students could talk and eat before the debate began. Also the food was pretty good. Overall, I think it was better than any of the other debate parties that the department has held this year,” she said.
There has been greater student participation for the Republican debates then for the Democratic debated. Joseph Patten, the chair of the Department of Political Science, deduces that there are various reasons for this. He said, “I think the Republican debates are a little more interesting right now first of all because of Donald Trump. There is entertainment value in watching Donald Trump. People wonder, who he is going to tell off today,” he said.
“There is also a wide open race in the Republican field, whereas in the Democratic field the general consensus right now is that Hillary Clinton has a pretty big lead. And so I think because the Republican field is a lot more competitive and given the fact that it has the additive value of Donald Trump it draws more viewership,” he continued.
Bartch said that some students are interested in hearing both sides of the debate. “I have noticed that at Monmouth; we had a great turnout for the first Presidential primary debate watch party which featured the Republican Party. Of course, the Republican primaries have been quite interesting with Donald Trump center stage, but in general, many students at Monmouth seem to be interested in supporting and learning about both parties,” said Bartch.
Kaitlin Allsopp, a freshman political science student has attended all of the debate watch parties this semester. “It is important to watch both sides of the debate regardless of one’s partisan affiliation,” she said.
Throughout the debate watch party there were various instances where students laughed at moments of the debate. Hammouda recalled one instance in particular, “I am always surprised by some of the comments made by the candidates. Senator Ted Cruz said something insane about buying marijuana brownies from Colorado, and everyone cracked up.”
Patten thinks that the communal viewing of the debates is very beneficial. “I think it is a great way for the Monmouth community to come together to watch the debate and to talk about it afterwards. So much of the coverage of presidential campaigns is a horserace narrative of whose winning and who’s losing.”
According to Bartch, the debate was crucial for the Republican candidates. “This debate is unique in the sense that we are really in the thicket of things in terms of the presidential primaries. Some students have already expressed that they think that this might really be a turning point for some of the candidates,” she said.
Patten thinks that future debate watch parties will continue to draw in crowds. “They’re really big during the general election, when we are down to two candidates. We watched Barack Obama and Mitt Romney debate. Those events are gangbusters. Typically we get a few hundred people for the general election parties. There is food, and media coverage. Things get amped up quite a lot for the general elections,” he said.