Indiana Daily Student

Student organizations co-host in-person presidential debate watch party

<p>People watch the presidential debate on Sept. 29 at the Conrad Prebys Amphitheater on IU&#x27;s campus.  Tuesday night’s debate was the first of the presidential debates.</p>

People watch the presidential debate on Sept. 29 at the Conrad Prebys Amphitheater on IU's campus. Tuesday night’s debate was the first of the presidential debates.

Students watching the presidential debate Tuesday night were amused by the bickering, interrupting and commentating between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Bidenand the moderator, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace.

IU Student Government, Indiana Memorial Union Board, College Democrats at IU and College Republicans at IU organized an in-person watch party with required social distancing and masks at the Conrad Prebys Amphitheater, an outdoor space on campus.

There were about 100 attendees at the event who laughed and cheered and clapped at many points throughout the debate while the candidates insulted and interrupted one another.

Junior Alessia Modjarrad, president of College Democrats at IU, said the events and meetings for her organization this semester have been online, but people wanted to have an in-person event. Modjarrad came up with the idea of having a joint, bipartisan watch party and started planning a month ago, she said.

Modjarrad said her organization has not hosted a watch party in previous years, but she has a working relationship with College Republicans at IU, and the Indiana Memorial Union Board handled the logistics of event planning.

The watch party was a social event for attendees, Modjarrad said. She said she came up with the idea for a bingo card given to attendees which included phrases and words the candidates were likely to say.

The presidential debate may push undecided voters to switch sides as well as convince people who do not feel strongly about a candidate to feel solidified in their opinion, Modjarrad said.

“Seeing people actually talk on a stage I think changes people’s perception of candidates,” she said.

Freshman Alice Fordsaid she heard about the watch party through her friends. She said she was disheartened by the lies and manipulation she saw from the candidates during the debate.

“People will really have to think hard about what kind of person they want to lead this country,” she said.

Ford said she was encouraged by seeing people’s enthusiasm to demand positive change. She said she hopes the candidates will discuss women’s right to choose and the electoral college in the future debates.

Junoir Grace Semler said she thinks this was the worst presidential debate she’s seen due to the lack of evidence or concrete policy discussion from either candidate. 

“Domestically, I don’t think people’s opinions are going to change very much based on the debates,” she said. “But I think internationally the debates are watched, and it probably doesn’t look very good.”

Junior Anthony Morales, director of social impact at Indiana Memorial Union Board, said the Indiana Memorial Union Board put the event together logistically and focused on marketing the watch party through social media such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook because fliers were unlikely to be effective due to the lack of students on campus.

Morales said he hopes the organizations can stream all the debates as well as the election night at the Conrad Prebys Amphitheater, but depending on the weather they may move the event inside the Indiana Memorial Union. The next presidential debate is Oct. 15 and more information about a watch party will come out closer to the event.

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