PURCHASE, N.Y. – With five weeks to go before the presidential election, nearly 100 Manhattanville College students gathered Wednesday night to watch President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in the first of three debates.
Students were mixed when it came to who won the debate, which focused on domestic policy.
“He was more specific,” senior Oletta Semple said of Obama. “Romney gave very vague answers, especially when he was asked what he would do once elected. I felt he was a bit misinformed. He dodged questions and would sway from the issue that was being raised.”
Semple enjoyed watching the debate with her classmates rather than just in her dorm room.
“It was interesting watching it with a group of people and hearing what the professors had to say before and after,” she said. “It was kind of like an expert opinion.”
Undecided Vermont voter Ben Smith felt the debate was pretty equal and could not pick a winner.
“That surprised me because lately Romney’s had a lot of trouble with campaign blunders, especially his 47 percent comment,” Smith said. “Today, I felt like he was able to hold his own in the debate.”
Smith, who said he got a lot out of the debate, added that Obama and Romney agreed on some issues.
“The tax plans both sounded very similar,” said the junior. “They both had a desire to not heavily tax the middle class.”
The debate-watching event was planned by four Manhattanville professors over breakfast last week.
“The kids who want to watch it are going to watch it in their dorm room by themselves,” said Anthony Rudel, visiting lecturer in the communication studies department. “These are major issues. Why don’t we do something where we can bring what our knowledge is to bear and let them watch it as a group?”
The Rev. Wil Tyrrell of the Duchesne Center, a faculty member in world religions, helped put together the event because of the major issues that will affect college students in their immediate future.
“It’s an educational opportunity to make the students more aware of the political system,” he said. “They become more informed with the political process and with some of the issues at stake.”
Tyrrell said students who watch the debates live up to the college mission statement, which is to “educate ethically and socially responsible leaders for a global community.”
The next debate is between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan on Oct. 11 at 9 p.m. It will cover both foreign and domestic topics. Obama and Romney’s second debate takes place Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. and will feature foreign and domestic questions from citizens.
Who do you think won the first debate – were you undecided and now have your mind made up, or are you more strongly behind your candidate after tonight? Answer our poll or comment below.