Smith Bipartisan Coalition and Democrats Co-Host Debate Viewing

Photo by Leah Henry '17 | The watch party allowed students to view the debate in a politically non-biased space.

Photo by Leah Henry ’17 | The watch party allowed students to view the debate in a politically non-biased space.

Anna Saunders ’17
Contributing Writer

The Smith Bipartisan Coalition and Smith Democrats joined forces on Oct. 13 to host a viewing party of the Democratic Presidential Debate.

The two political groups organized the event in the Campus Center to provide a viewing space for the first Democratic Primary Debate.

The free event gave students a chance to watch the CNN airing of the debate in an alternative space for both political enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

The event began around 8:30 p.m., and students streamed in and out throughout the debate.

Students who attended did not overtly express any particular opinion, and reactions were limited mostly to side-commentary rather than directed at the crowd. “Last year everyone was so Hillary, and now everyone is so Bernie,” remarked one student in the crowd.

“I’m surprised that the candidate who suggested more debates was thrown out,” said Sarah Emigh-Doyle ’16, in reference to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s claim she was uninvited to the Democratic debate after advocating for more forums for discussion.

As the five candidates verbally sparred over familiar political issues, from Hillary’s email scandal to campaign finance reform, students offered few direct political opinions.

“This event is less of a show,” said Alex Criner ’16, adding, “People aren’t talking over each other; it’s [about] real political issues.”

Student commentary consisted mainly of comparisons between this debate and two the previous GOP debates.

“The tone of this debate was noticeably distinct from the two GOP debates,” said Violet McHale ’17, a member of the Smith Democrats.

“There was noticeably more variety of issues. They covered them with a lot more focus than at the GOP debate,” said Colgan Powell ’17, also a member of the Smith Democrats. Powell acknowledged this was the public’s first real introduction to the other democratic candidates, adding “Hillary and Sanders resonated more than the other three.”

The watch party, the first collaboration of the two coalitions, was organized to provide a space to watch the debate outside of students’ houses.

“There are a lot of views on campus, and this event was created as a space for dissenting opinions,” said McHale.

“It’s designed as a space that isn’t skewed to the loudest view,” said Theresa Meyer ’17, co-president of the Bipartisan Coalition.

Meant to provide a space for both healthy conversations and encourage people to get out of their houses, the event was organized, “with the expectation of respect of beliefs and speech,” said Powell.

The Bipartisan Coalition and the Smith College Republican Club will be co-hosting a viewing event on campus for the GOP debate on Oct. 28.

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