John B. Davis Lecture Hall (JBD) was packed full on Monday September 28, where MacDems hosted a screening for the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump with a discussion afterwards led by Macalester political science professors Michael Zis and Patrick Schmidt.
The crowd was full of people excited for the debate.
“All of the chairs were taken, there were people sitting on the floor, there were people standing in the back. And when I got there, which was partway through the event, there were lines of people out the doors leaning in to see the screen, so it was a really, really well-attended event, I think the best I’ve ever seen in JBD,” Isabella Soparkar ’18 said.
And people didn’t just clear out after the debate finished.
“People stayed really late afterwards; I would say at least half-an-hour. I thought most of the crowd was going to clear out after the debate, and they didn’t. They stayed and talked, which I thought was really nice,” Soparkar added.
Despite ideological differences even within parties, MacDems was just happy to see people supporting the democrats. “We know that a lot of the campus was very pro-Bernie in the primaries so we are happy to see that the campus isn’t totally dead now that he is not the Democratic nominee. We are very grateful to everyone who showed up and supported team blue,” MacDems co-chair Darwin Forsyth ’18 said.
As far as the events that transpired and what was said during the debate, any number of words seem as if they could accurately capture the event.
“Somehow the debate lived up to expectations in so many ways: dramatic, humorous, aggravating, revealing, shocking, even outrageous. It was truly ‘must see TV,’” professor Patrick Schmidt wrote in an email.
Some were surprised by the points presented by Donald Trump, expecting a more poised version of the typically candid candidate. But, according to students who attended the event, poised was a word more apt to describe Clinton’s performance.
“I was surprised at what transpired. Because [Trump’s] campaign had momentum and closed the gap in the polls, I had expected Trump to, in basketball terms, play it conservatively and run out the clock — scripted, rehearsed, similar to who we saw at the Republican Convention. He was clearly rattled. After the first 20 minutes or so, we got the raw, easily peeved, unscripted, unfiltered version,” professor Michael Zis wrote in an email.
On the other hand, Clinton was seen by attendees as prepared, confident and capable. All were impressed with her ability to compose herself and present an impressive platform.
The student reactions toward Trump were mixed, more so than the reactions toward Clinton.
In a statement to The Mac Weekly, MacDems wrote, “People laughed out loud quite a bit at Trump’s mendacity and lack of preparation, but we also think there was a strong sense of disgust surrounding Trump’s many highly offensive comments.”
As a concluding statement of sorts for the night, Myles Ambrose ’17 wrote, “I thought it was a good night for Hillary Clinton.”