Katies discuss their impressions of the first presidential debate

On Tuesday, September 27, a large group of St. Kate’s students filled The Pulse to watch the first presidential debate of the election cycle. Students beforehand were unsure about how the the debate would play out.

“I expect that he [Donald Trump] won’t talk policy,” said Vina Onvyango-Robasha, a Chemistry major, ’18.

An hour before the start of the debate, Campus Ministry had two panelists talk to the audience about immigration and how it has affected their lives as both panelist were children of immigrants. The next two debate topics will be on education and the economy.

“I was glad I came to the pre-debate discussion,” said Diana Sotelo, a Nursing major, ’17. “Some of the things that were discussed were covered in the debate and it was nice to have a background on it. I’m looking forward to seeing what they [Campus Ministry] bring to the next presidential debate.”

Campus Ministry, supported by the Center for Community Work and Learning’s AMP program, supplied pamphlets to students about how to register to vote, where students can vote, how to vote absentee, as well as how to take time off of work in order to vote. The national deadline to register to vote for the upcoming election is October 18, as is the Minnesota deadline to register online and through the mail; Minnesotans can register in person. For more information on how to register please click here.

Campus Ministry poster for the presidential debates.

Campus Ministry poster for the presidential debates.

At 8 p.m. the debate started with the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, and the Democrat nominee, Hillary Clinton debating topics such as foreign policy, immigration, economics, and police brutality. Both candidates also talked about the controversies surrounding themselves. Clinton briefly addressed her emails, while Trump argued about whether or not he said certain things. While both candidates accused one another and brought up past scandals the moderator, Lester Holt of NBC’s Nightly News, corrected each candidate only a few times. (Several days before the debate there were arguments that it is the moderator’s job to fact-check the candidates, however prior to the debate it was decided that it is not in fact the moderator’s job. For those who wish to see a transcript of the debate with fact-checkers’ inputs click here.)

Table sponsored by Community Work and Learning on information on how to register to vote in the CDC.

Table sponsored by Community Work and Learning on information on how to register to vote in the CDC.

The majority of the St. Kate’s audience seemed to be in agreement on which candidate they supported, booing or cheering certain candidates, as well as adding commentary.

Some students were both pleasantly surprised and disappointed by the candidates.

“It’s been a difficult election up until now,” said Heather Bjerke, an Elementary Education major, ’17. “I would have liked to see the candidates talking a little bit more about policy tonight, but I wasn’t expecting [any policy].”

“I guess I was expecting them to act more professional, just because it’s the first presidential debate. I expected more of an impact; ‘this is what I’m going to do, this is what I stand for’,” said Sotelo. “But this was more like what you’d expect them to say in a TV interview, not in a professional debate.”

There were also some comments on the moderator and how he did during the presidential debate.

“I think overall he did a good job; I think he could have asked a lot tougher questions. Especially when no one was really answering the question,” said Onyango-Robshaw. “He could have had more challenging questions for both of them.”

“I think he let both candidates slide at a couple of points. To the moderator’s credit, he let them finish up what they had to say so that he could keep moving it along,” said Bjerke.

The next presidential debate will be Sunday, October 9 and there will be another presidential debate viewing held at The Pulse. Campus Ministry, with support from CWL’s Assistantship Mentoring Program, will be holding another panel on education an hour before the debate starts.

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