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Students Gather for the First Presidential Debate

The room was filled, eyes were glued to the screen and palpable tension was in the air.

Last night, more than sixty Loyola students packed the fourth floor of the Information Commons for a non-partisan watch party for the first Presidential debate. This was in addition to a non-partisan viewing party in the Damen Den hosted by the Loyola Debate Team and in the Damen Cinema by the Loyola College Democrats.

The showing kicks off a series of pre-election events sponsored by the university libraries, including voter registration, election research workshops and a seminar on negative campaign ads. The events are scheduled to run until Nov. 4, the Friday before Election Day.

Despite the evident partisanship among the viewers, some voters were waiting to evaluate the candidates throughout the debate.

First-year forensic science major Howard Williams said he was relatively undecided, describing himself as a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. Though he was leaning more towards the Democrats, he wanted to wait to see the debate.

“[This] is pretty important because both parties have their differences,” said Williams. “We’ll see going forward how the debate affects it.”

Even before candidates spoke, a fair amount of attendants had already made up their mind.

Nick Aicher, a junior biology student, said he would be voting for Republican nominee Donald Trump. Describing himself as a moderate at heart, he said he felt that Trump was slightly reactionary but that it was clear who the moderator sided with.

“Trump did need to relax a little on his part,” said Aicher. “But it was very clear who the moderator sided with and that was Clinton. He directly asked Trump fifteen questions as well as more follow-ups and interruptions, while he only asked Clinton two questions.”

However, the response in the room was mixed as to if anyone won the debate outright.

Senior psychology major Randy Dahdouh, who said he would be voting for Trump, thought it was a good debate, but that the Republican nominee spent too much time on himself.

“He should have talked more about her issues,” said Dahdouh. “I feel that he had a strong first half and Clinton had a strong second half.”

Similarly, Williams still felt uncertain after the debate, but his opinion has not changed.

Senior psychology major Kenzie Troske said her focus was on the conduct of the candidates during the debate. She said that she had made up her mind to vote for Clinton in the primaries, and tonight only reinforced her decision.

“When Trump spoke about places, he would reference his investment and businesses instead of the people,” said Troske. “I think that says a lot about him.”

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