ETSU Votes and the ETSU Student Government Association hosted a watch party and discussion session for the first presidential debate on Sept. 27. Located in the Cave, snacks were provided and the debate was aired on a large projector.

With popcorn and drinks in hand, students, faculty, staff and community members watched the two-hour debate intensely.

This was the first presidential debate of this election season, and it was hosted at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

Moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, Donald Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were tasked with discussing America’s direction, achieving prosperity and how to secure America.

The majority of those in attendance were in support of Clinton, but Trump supporters made their presence known as well.

In a survey, many Trump supporters expressed their support for Trump by citing his tax plan and desire to build a wall along the border between Mexico and the U.S. Dislike for Clinton was cited as the main reason to support Trump.

“I wish I could say more about what I admire about his policies,” said an anonymous ETSU junior at the debate, who will be voting for Trump. “Really, I just despise Hillary with every cell of my body.”

Clinton’s supporters cited Trump and his ideas as enough reason to support Clinton.

“Her policies and beliefs match with mine,” said senior Mollie O’Shaughnessy, who will be casting her vote for Clinton. “She’s also not Trump.”

Race, the economy and national security were the main issues of the night, which prompted bouts of cheering from students donned in political buttons, hats and shirts.

The ETSU Votes committee hoped for 100 people to attend and were ecstatic when more than 150 came to watch the events unfold.

“People were really responsive to the poll we had set up and extremely civil to those rooting for the opposite party nominee,” said Emma Hammer, ETSU Votes committee member. “I know some people had apprehensions about disagreements getting out of hand, but you truly can bring people together to display tolerance and respect when it comes to politics.”

SGA used interactive text messaging polls to show the real-time results of those in attendance. By the end of the debate, 71 percent believed that Clinton won the debate, which is slightly less than the focus group ran by CNN that showed 90 percent of viewers believed she won.

Though there were many different viewpoints, all agreed that exercising the right to vote is important.

“I’m independent at the moment,” said another anonymous student. “But I believe it is important to vote because being able to have a voice is crucial because these issues affect me and my future.”

“I was only counted as three-fifths of a person back in the day,” said sophomore Jeremiah Pearson. “Why waste my rights?”

The ETSU Votes committee will be hosting a viewing party for the first vice presidential debate, which will be held on Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

On Nov. 8, ETSU Votes will be holding a results watch party as well.

Students are welcomed and encouraged to stop by the SGA office to pick up a voter registration form prior to Oct. 11. ETSU Votes members will be there to answer any questions students have about voting or filling out the registration form.

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