Tuesday night, September 29, APSU held a sit-in party for the 2020 presidential debate between 45th President Donald J. Trump and former vice president Joe Biden in the Clement Auditorium. The sit-in party was sponsored by APSU’s Student Government Association (SGA).
“I felt it was necessary for students to engage in political conversations respectfully and it was also an opportunity to build community among students. This debate was such a monumental event partly because of how highly anticipated it was and partly because of who the candidates are,” SGA president Kito Aruh said.
Food and drinks were handed out at the front door and before the debate, the SGA host held a small discussion for the students present at the event. Leading the discussion was Kevin Baron, a professor of APSU’s political science and public management department. A guest-speaker talked to students via Skype, Dr. Harold Young, also a professor of the political science and public management department, emphasizing the importance of voting and analyzing each candidate thoroughly.
Many other APSU officials felt likewise.
“It was our hope that students would attend to be better educated about both candidates and their plans for the future of the country. Additionally, it’s critically important that students are educated on issues facing them personally and others collectively,” Greg Singleton, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said.
Some students attended for the sake of pursuing their interest in political matters.
“I was at the presidential debate to see two things—one, how they both agree and disagree on certain issues, and two, how they plan to solve issues,” political science-major and senior Brandon Morris said.
Unfortunately, the event was greeted with poor attendance. Out of the seventy-seven seats reserved in the auditorium, a health-measurement due to COVID-19, only around thirty students attended.
“I was very disappointed with the student turnout. I fully expected we would have had more students attend,” Singleton said.
The debate was broadcasted on CBS news in the auditorium and was moderated by FOX news anchor Chris Wallace.
What encapsulated the ninety-minute debate was a cluster of political diatribes, both candidates bitterly going back and forth in an interruptive fashion that many found to be displeasing.
“I was flabbergasted and in shock by the blatant lack of respect the candidates had for each other. I do not feel necessarily enlightened by the performance of both candidates,” Aruh said.
“It was not a positive reflection upon the dignity of the Office of President nor was anything learned from the debate this year. Both candidates could have handled themselves more appropriately,” Singleton said.
Indeed, such comments echo the many other predominantly negative reviews on the first presidential debate. For many, the exchange was not a discussion, but a feud.
The next two presidential debates will be on October 15 and October 22.
There will be a vice presidential debate between candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris
Due to the poor attendance, SGA will not be hosting sit-in parties for the next two presidential debates nor vice-presidential one.