On Monday night in the lower level Barone Campus Center, students came to watch the first 2016 Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The event was coordinated by seniors Ariana Lenci and Riley Barrett, Presidents of Young Republicans and College Democrats, respectively.
The event was set up through the University, although both presidents allowed themselves to work together despite their club’s opposing views. “Riley and I collaborated this whole thing. We talked about what we would offer students such as food and merchandise from both sides. We definitely worked together to make this possible,” Lenci said.
Word of the event was spread through Fairfield’s OrgSync and posted on student calendars. In addition, both Barrett and Lenci contributed to making the event appeal to all students. While Barrett put up flyers and created posts for both the underclassmen and upperclassmen, Lenci contacted the leaders from the First Year Experience program to get students involved in the event. Freshmen that attended were allowed to receive FYE credit in exchange for watching the debate.
“I thought this event would be more effective if Ariana and I co-hosted it together. The event really exceeded my expectations; we had a really large turnout,” said Barrett.
“I didn’t expect the event to be this packed, but as it turned out there were no seats left before the debate even started. I know a lot of people were excited to see what was going to happen; it was definitely a different debate than we’ve ever seen before just because of the opposing sides of Hillary [Clinton] and Donald Trump,” said Lenci.
Despite the controversial viewpoints of each opposing side, Fairfield students were silent while each candidate spoke and clapped only after their time had ended to speak. The crowd of students was well mixed from a political standpoint and were considerate to one another.
In spite of the consideration, students still had various opinions after the debate was over, some in favor of Clinton while others were in favor of Trump.
Freshman Clare French believes that Clinton did a better job at the debate.
“[She] stated more factual evidence, and Trump just presented word vomit,” commented French. “He doesn’t tell the truth very much if you fact check his information. I thought she was more respectful to Lester Holt and she carried herself better.”
However, Jake Shapiro ‘19 did not agree.
“I think it was pretty equal, but in the beginning, Trump was really good,” he said. “He had a lot of good points. Hillary asked him some good questions though and he stumbled on a couple. I think they were pretty equally matched, but I think I would give it to Trump by a little bit.”
To the relief of both club presidents, there was no rowdiness whatsoever at the event. “My concern was that maybe tensions would run a little high, but I’m very proud of the way that Fairfield students conducted themselves, which I found to be very respectful,” said Barrett.
Some students, like Allison Beeny ‘19, believed that neither Trump nor Clinton debated well.
“Neither of them backed up their replies with facts,” said Beeney. “They interrupted each other and blamed the other person instead of explaining themselves.”
Due to the success of this last debate, the next few debates will be aired in the LLBCC, including the Pence vs. Kaine Vice Presidential Debate happening on Oct. 4.