Student government, political clubs sponsor viewing party for presidential debate
Gina Twardosz | Friday, October 7, 2016
Saint Mary’s Student Government Association, College Republicans and College Democrats will sponsor a presidential debate viewing party in Carroll Auditorium on Sunday at 9 p.m.
Junior SMC College Republicans vice president Anna McCambridge said the debate viewing party is informal and open to everyone.
“Individuals are able to come and go as they please, grab a snack [or] stay for the entire debate if they want,” she said.
Sophomore SGA member Emma Lewis said the main reason for hosting a debate viewing party is to keep students involved in the election process.
“SGA decided to host this because the presidential election is a major concern for most Americans,” she said.“We hope that having a viewing party will encourage students to watch the debate to gain a greater understanding of where candidates stand on issues, so that when it comes time to vote, students will make informed decisions about who to vote for.”
McCambridge said she hopes everyone, regardless of political ideology, decides to attend.
“By holding the watch party, we are encouraging Belles to be as aware and informed as possible about the upcoming election,” she said. “We are inviting those on both ends of the political spectrum to gather together and discuss some of the issues brought up by our candidates.”
Junior SMC College Democrats member Stephanie Stapleton reiterated this point and said she wants everyone, regardless of background, to join in.
“Sponsoring the debate helps open doorways for conversation between students, regardless of party or political association,” she said. “This election will affect everyone, so everyone should be knowledgeable about options. I’m an art major, but I still feel as though knowing about the stances of the candidates can help me to make the best choice for our future leader.”
McCambridge said by gathering Democrats and Republicans together, they can set an example for the rest of campus that disagreeing is OK.
“Gathering together with the SMC College Democrats is an easy way for us to encourage dialogue, despite our differing opinions,” she said. “SMC has taught us to think critically about real-world problems and to be logical thinkers. Disagreeing is normal, but we won’t allow for opinions to affect our sense of sisterhood.”
Stapleton said there will be a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere surrounding the party and the night is about what the students want.
“We wanted to leave it open-ended, so that people can feel comfortable to come and go as they like,” she said.“We’re hoping for some open and honest conversation.”
McCambridge also said she hopes students feel free to discuss the debate openly and honestly.
“Dialogue is encouraged throughout the entire debate, not just before or after,” she said. “We understand it may be uncomfortable for some, but the best way to learn is by allowing yourself out of your comfort zone.”
McCambridge said she would like to see less mudslinging in this debate and more focus on the questions and issues at hand.
“The first debate was primarily all mudslinging; while definitely entertaining, it was not what Americans wanted and needed,” McCambridge said. “I’m hoping that both candidates have gotten it out of their system and will come prepared to debate the issues that Americans so desperately wants answers to.”
Stapleton said she agreed.
“I would like to see a legitimate discussion on the candidate’s stances,” she said. “I think a lot of people are tired of the mudslinging, and I believe it’s important for voters to be truly informed.”
Saint Mary’s first year Carey Dwyer said she is excited to attend the debate viewing party and hopes to discuss it with those who don’t share her political ideology.
“[The debate viewing party] will give me a better opportunity to openly discuss my thoughts about the debate,” she said. “I usually discuss it with my friends, but they share my political ideology, so I’m hoping to branch out.”
McCambridge said at the end of the night, educating students — and potential voters — in political issues is the focus.
“Greater political awareness is one of our end goals,” she said.