Republican and Democratic clubs cohost debate watch party

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The Chamberlain Student Center pit was the site of bipartisan camaraderie as the Democratic Club and College Republicans held a joint watch party, in conjunction with the Student Center, for the final presidential debate on Oct. 19

The two clubs hosted the event together to demonstrate the importance of getting involved in college and having a voice no matter what side of the aisle it comes from.

Roughly 70 students attended the event, but the debate squabble reeled in stragglers throughout the night. After the event, the clubs discussed the final debate and how to address the tension over this election.  

Just like Republican politicians around the nation, the College Republicans are dealing with backlash. Donald Trump’s recently-leaked video footage has left them with feelings of disappointment.

“I think the chances for Trump winning are pretty dismal now,” said Matteo Iadonisi, treasurer of College Republicans and a junior radio/television/film and journalism dual major. “This was his last chance to make a statement to the American people. He goes off the rails…and, like WikiLeaks suggested, Hillary Clinton’s greatest weapon is Trump’s own divisiveness. 

“It’s upsetting to me. I wish there was a bit more representation of core principles and philosophy,” he continued.

College Republicans member Brendan Kain believes this election will drive more voters to consider third-party options.

“Trump has ostracized many different groups,” said Kain, a philosophy and law and justice dual major. “Because of that, he’s likely going to lose Florida and other swing states.”

For others of the College Republicans, voter illiteracy has made this election hard to bear. 

After the debate, officers from the republican and democrat groups discussed their thoughts on the election. - Staff Photo/Taylor Henry
After the debate, officers from the republican and democrat groups discussed their thoughts on the election. – Staff Photo/Taylor Henry

“People don’t know what’s going on in Aleppo, people don’t know what’s going on in Syria,” said Christian Springer, the club’s vice president and a radio/television/film major. “You have Trump and Clinton telling us what they’re going to do with the American military abroad and it just plays into the whole incompetence of the election.” 

Voter illiteracy was a concern on the Democratic Club side of the table as well.

“I think this a case where there is a dialogue and we’re bringing people together and getting people hopefully involved and interested, and if we do that then maybe there will be more informed voters down the line,” Democrat Club Secretary Gerard Oberle said.

Vice President Joe Miller expressed concern about the lack of voter turnout in recent elections.

“The reason we have the candidates we have today is because we have less people voting,” the mechanical engineering major said. “If you have more people voting, you’ll have more representative candidates, and you’re going to have better candidates going forward.”

For the two clubs, politics are more than just picking sides. Hosting bi-partisan events like the debate watch party help to create a political environment of learning and understanding.

“Listening to a debate together and having both viewpoints together gives a better understanding to college students as to what each candidate is about.” – nicole alfaro

“I’m glad we can reach over the aisle, so to speak, and we can work with the Republicans,” said Democratic Club President Pete Sawan. “If we can initiate more cooperative efforts to hold events like this, we can set the future generations up for a more cohesive cooperation between parties.”

There was one piece of advice that both parties agreed on.

“As college students, we need to get out and vote this election,” College Republicans Senator Nicole Alfaro said. “Listening to a debate together and having both viewpoints together gives a better understanding to college students as to what each candidate is about.” 

Throughout the entire event, the two clubs showed respect for each other.

“We have a back-and-forth discussion between members of clubs that are clearly a part of these clubs for principle of reasons,” said Iadonisi. “You can look each other in the eye with respect and say, ‘I know you’re here for a reason, because you believe something deep down in your heart’…and we can respect each other for it, instead of getting mad at each other and screaming and hollering.

“I think this kind of discussion is extremely important and as college students, we should see more of this.”

For more information on either club, visit the Facebook pages of the Rowan University College Republicans and the Rowan University Democratic Club.

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