UB College Republicans host debate watch party
Students gather to watch first presidential debate of the general election season
Roughly 90 students gathered in the Student Union lobby on Monday night for a presidential debate watch party.
UB College Republicans hosted the event but students from the Democrat and Libertarian clubs were also present. Attendees were engaged and enthusiastic. Students intermittently cheered and booed for the candidates. Cheers were primarily in response to Republican candidate Donald Trump’s remarks, whereas boos were mostly directed at Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Attendance dwindled to around 40 people by the end of the 90-minute debate.
Shurun Jackson, a freshman political science major, said he liked attending the party because it’s interesting to see other’s reactions to the candidates.
Nicole Caine, a senior global gender studies major and president of College Democrats, said it’s important for every American to be involved in politics and debates are a good way for people to learn about the candidates.
“It gives people who don’t have a position yet an opportunity to hear both sides,” said Reed Tighe, a senior political science major and president of College Republicans.
Trump was the clear favorite among attendees.
“I think [Trump] will do what’s best for America and has the best chance of winning,” Tighe said.
Lauren Kacherski, a junior history major and secretary of College Republicans, said Trump had a strong performance and strong facts.
“Clinton just kept the middle ground. She won’t argue when Trump brings up facts she doesn’t like,” Kacherski said.
While many attendees favored Trump, Caine said she is a Clinton supporter.
“I’m voting for Hillary Clinton because she represents equality and respects all people. Personally, I align with her views, especially with social justice issues,” Caine said.
Caine said LGBT issues and Islamophobia are examples of social justice issues that Clinton addresses.
Andrew Weiner, a sophomore political science major and vice president of UB Libertarians, said while he leans more toward Trump than Clinton, neither candidate fully represents his views. Weiner prefers Gary Johnson, the Libertarian third party candidate.
“Gary Johnson is the only true fiscal conservative. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump do not represent what is best for America,” Weiner said.
Weiner said he will vote for Johnson in November.
“Gary Johnson may not get elected, but it’s all about the future. Because of the electoral college, New York will go to Hillary Clinton anyway, so why not make inroads for a third party?”
Voting for Johnson raises awareness about the Libertarian Party and libertarian issues, Weiner said.
Government accountability is one of the Libertarian Party’s main concerns and Libertarians are “socially tolerant and fiscally conservative,” according to Weiner.
Kacherski said that this election cycle has been particularly divisive and described both candidates as “extreme.”
“When Trump shushed Hillary and she continued interrupting, that just showed how this election cycle is going,” Kacherski said.
In contrast, the debate party attendees were polite and respectful, in spite of differing views.
According to Caine, despite “political issues going on,” the College Republicans, College Democrats and UB Libertarians are “really close.”
“Even if we don’t agree with each other’s views, we share full respect,” Caine said.
Maddy Fowler is a news staff writer and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org