‘Amazing Turnout’ for Debate Viewing Party

Guest Writer – Tyler Shingeck

With Election Day just over a month away, the presidential race is starting to heat up and will continue to do so after the two major candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, went head-to-head in a testy debate Monday night. In an effort to gather students and engage them in the election process, the college’s Gerald R. Ford Institute and Political Science department hosted a debate viewing party in Bobbit Auditorium open to all students.

“This was an amazing turnout. We didn’t anticipate this crowd,” said Associate Professor Dyron Dabney, chair of the Political Science department. Dabney said the size of the crowd, some 75 students, showed that Albion students were at least as interested as the general public in the first Clinton-Trump debate. A record-breaking 84 million people in the U.S. watched the debate, according to The Guardian newspaper. The viewing party included everyone from first-years to seniors and reflected many different political beliefs.

While the viewing party may have featured pizza and snacks, and offered some students extra credit, it was the debate that was the main draw. Members of the crowd attentively watched as the two candidates went back and forth trying to persuade voters they were the best choice. Both candidates received their share of claps and laughs from the students in the crowd. When Donald Trump said, “We have to stop jobs from leaving our country,” a student watching in the crowd yelled, “How?” The most notable laughter from the crowd came when Trump insisted that he does not have a short temper.

Moments like these make gathering students for a viewing party a great extension to the classroom, said Dabney.

“This is experiential learning,” said Dabney, “a learning avenue that’s not just in the classroom, but it’s real world, real time, and things happening, and having people communicate and express themselves whether they are applauding or laughing. It’s part entertainment, but it’s also part education.”

With the viewing party being such a success, the Ford Institute and Political Science department hope to host future events focused on the presidential campaign. The next event the department has lined up is a panel focused on local elections, next week, Oct. 4. This will provide another opportunity for Albion students to get together and engage with politics outside the comfort of a classroom.

Photo by Tyler Shingeck

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