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Rutgers students, faculty react to recent Democratic Debate

<p>The viewing, at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus, filled nearly every seat with approximately 80 students present. Students watched the Democratic candidates spar over issues ranging from healthcare, foreign policy to impeachment and more for more than 3 hours.</p>

The viewing, at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus, filled nearly every seat with approximately 80 students present. Students watched the Democratic candidates spar over issues ranging from healthcare, foreign policy to impeachment and more for more than 3 hours.


Eagleton’s Center for Youth Political Participation hosted a Democratic debate viewing party Tuesday night, which garnered a crowd that organizers said was larger than expected and educated students on the candidates. 

The viewing, at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus, filled nearly every seat with approximately 80 students present. Students watched the Democratic candidates spar over issues ranging from healthcare, foreign policy to impeachment and more for more than 3 hours. 

While some students came in with their own political preferences, others wanted to learn more about the race. 

“I came to get more knowledgeable about the candidates,” said Celine LaBelle, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior. “I don't have one I'm super happy with at this point. I just wanted to see in a structured event what's going on.”

Still, she conceded that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was a favorite of hers.

For a majority of the debate, the crowd remained static, although Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) elicited a singular clap when introduced. In lieu of applause lines, though, the crowd burst out into chuckles multiple times, like when Warren boasted about her 70,000 selfies as “the new measure of democracy” or when Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) exclaimed he “wrote the damn bill.” 

While most of the audience trickled out after the second commercial break, many stayed. Some who remained, though, said staying helped put a fresh perspective on policy and ideas. 

“I've found (staying) worthwhile,” said Mathilde Roux, an Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy graduate student. “The beginning of the debate kind of lost me, since it was hashing out stuff we've already talked about but I felt like the middle part of the debate had a lot of news questions and new thoughts on old questions I felt was really worth listening to.”

Among the 19 Democrats still in the race for the presidency, only 12 candidates took the stage in Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio. Candidates were required to poll at minimum 2% in four Democratic National Committee (DNC)-approved polls and receive a minimum of 130,000 unique donors by the Oct. 1 deadline, according to the DNC.

The candidates included Joe Biden, Warren, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sanders and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), as well as South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, businessman Andrew Yang, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D).

Event organizers saw the event as a success in informing students on their civic duties and politics in general.

“I think (the viewing is) really important so that we can stay informed on what is happening in politics,” said Jessica Ronan, the program coordinator for Eagleton's Center for Youth Political Participation. “If there was a Republican debate, of course we'd show that as well. Learning about each candidate, really informing their decision helps when they are going into the voting booth.”

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article said “I think (the viewing is) really important so that we can stay ignored on ..."


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