GVSU students react to first presidential debate

Students watch the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the Mary Idema Pew Multipurpose Room Monday, Sept. 26.

GVL/Jess Hodge

Students watch the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in the Mary Idema Pew Multipurpose Room Monday, Sept. 26.

Jess Hodge

With the lecturns set and the questions ready, the stakes for both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump were sky-high for the first presidential debate. Expected to draw nearly 100 million viewers, the NBC debate Monday, Sept. 26 was the first head-to-head face-off for Clinton and Trump.

Some of those viewers were Grand Valley State University students who attended the debate watch party in the Mary Idema Pew Library Multipurpose room. A group of about 75 students gathered to watch the debate together.

After the 90 minutes of banter, interruptions and back-and-forth arguing between the presidential candidates, the debate ended and GVSU students were invited to participate in a facilitated discussion.

The discussion was open for everyone, regardless of political affiliation, to speak about either candidate, their stance on current issues and what they thought about the debate.

A major topic of discussion among the 10-15 students who stayed for the dialogue was the lack of policy addressed by the candidates.

“I really didn’t get any policy out of that whole thing,” said Patrick Miller, a GVSU senior. “It was kind of ‘OK, Hillary had the emails,’ “Trump, you said this.’

“I still don’t know Hillary’s foreign policy, if she’s going to continue Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East, specifically. I have no idea what Trump’s plan is.”

The debate was split into three categories of questions, fielded by moderator Lester Holt: achieving prosperity, America’s direction and securing America. Topics including taxes, nuclear weapons, ISIS, criminal justice reform and racial tensions dominated the debate.

“Donald said he had to be the ‘law and order’ candidate, but then he wanted to do unconstitutional stop and frisk and that doesn’t the respect the rule of law,” said Eric-John Szczepaniak, GVSU freshman. “I guess it seems more of ‘how many political points can I score?’ rather than ‘let’s all have a basic understanding of what constitutionalism is.'”

Another topic of discussion was the importance of temperament. During the debate, Trump said he had a better temperament than Clinton. She laughed this off.

According to a Twitter poll posted by @GVLanthorn of 105 people, 71 percent of people watching the debate thought Clinton won the debate, compared to the 29 percent of respondents who believed Trump won the debate.

The next debate of the presidential election will be the vice presidential debate between Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The Tuesday, Oct. 4 debate is hosted by CBS and will be moderated by Elaine Quijano, starting at 9 p.m.