First Time Voters View Pres. Debate at Huntingdon College Watch Party

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By Heather VacLav

The first presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney sparked thousands of debate watch parties across the country, including a student led watch at Huntingdon College.

The Political Science Club hosted a watch party around a big screen television at Blount dorm hall. About 30 students took a break from studying for midterms to learn what President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney had to say Wednesday night.

“About half my students have projects due tonight right after the debate,” said Dr. Jeremy Lewis, the chair of Political Science and History at Huntingdon College.

But projects and papers did not stop students from all sides of the political spectrum from sitting down on a couch and weighing in on the presidential candidates' debate.

“Both parties are looking for a mis-step on one candidates' behalf or the other,” said Russ Barnwell, a senior political science and English major, also the president of the College of Democrats.

“It's exciting to be a part of it, I've watched it for so long and now I get to have a little bit of a say,” said sophomore political science major Ann Clancy.

Like so many other college students watching the debate, Clancy will be voting for the first time in November, so she says this debate is even more important.

“It's a very diverse group of students, so its great to get to hear other people's opinions and it's exciting that we're active and we're so young, because our opinions are going to be heard this election,” Clancy said.

“You have students from both parties, not to mention students who represent all corners of the political spectrum,” Barnwell said. “We have libertarians, we have more extreme lefties than the typical democrat in Alabama.”

Dr. Lewis said this debate was less formal and more live action style, so his students could better understand where the candidates stand.

“It's a chance to see what we've been talking about in class come to life,” Lewis said. “And it's a close election so it gives us an opportunity to see an exciting one.”

But the watch party wasn't for extra credit, or a project – these students say it's about taking an active role in their future.

“I feel like it's not just something I'm doing because I love it, even though I do, I feel like its my responsibility and my duty to be informed about what's going on in my country,” said Daylan Woodall, a senior communications and religion major. “And to play a part every time I get the opportunity to.”

Huntingdon says with the larger turnout of students, it hopes to host another watch party next Thursday for the vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan.

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