Students from both sides of aisle gather for Clinton v. Trump
Augustana students assembled at the Back Alley Monday night to watch the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
The watch party was organized by the Augustana Democrats and Augustana Republicans to offer students a place where supporters of both parties could witness the discussion in a civil environment.
“Events like this are a great way to bring people together and show that, despite our differences, we can come together for a very civil event to talk about things that are going to affect us,” said Cara Beck, chairwoman of the Augustana Republicans. “The whole idea of a bipartisan event is what our political culture needs.”
More than 100 students attended the event. As soon as the candidates appeared on screen, audience applause flooded the room.
“American politics are crazy,” said Luca Amayo, a sophomore government and economics major from Kenya. He was one of several international students present at the viewing party.
With Donald Trump’s lack of political experience and controversy swirling around both campaigns, this election cycle has proved unusual, according to government professor Emily Wanless.
“This election has been uncharacteristic because it challenges every political theory we know about presidential elections,” Wanless said. “It is partly because of the people who are running, the tone of the campaigns, and what the electorate seems to be accepting. There is a real potential for actual change on the two-party structure because of this election.”
With election day approaching, Augustana’s political involvement has increased recently. The Government Club, Augustana Democrats and Augustana Republicans are preparing events to give students a place to learn about the current topics and situations concerning the upcoming election.
“I think it is important to have events like this, to bring a forum for discussion and for people to actually see the candidates face each other,” said Alejandro García, co-president of the Augustana Government Club.
“A lot of the time, young people think that their voice does not matter and that politicians do not care about them,” said Spencer O’Hara, president of Augustana Democrats. “We are going to be one of the largest parts of the electorate this time. Young people have to be aware that their voice does matter and that it is crucial for us to be involved.”
The next presidential debate will take place on Tuesday.