COLLEGE PARK, Md. – High spirits sounded Monday night as University of Maryland students gathered together to watch the first presidential debate between Democrat Nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Nominee Donald Trump.
Over 200 UMD students watched the first presidential candidate debate in the Hoff Theater at the Stamp Student Union. The event was hosted by University of Maryland College Republicans in association with Students for Liberty and College Democrats among other university groups.
“I would normally watch this on my laptop inside my dorm, but my roommates mentioned how it would be interesting to watch it together and discuss it as a group at the after party,” said Jean-Luque Zephir, a junior broadcast journalism major.
One of the most awaited topics for UMD students was education and college debt.
“There weren’t any satisfying responses,” said business major Vanessa Montiel.
“Most of my financial aid is loans, and I am planning on going to graduate school. Hillary briefly touched the subject, but not enough to go in depth and get a meaningful argument going. It is worrisome.”
Faculty also took part in the conversation on campus.
“It is a concern for all of us,” said Communications Professor Jessica Lu.
“Both Clinton and Trump needed to reach beyond their own ‘games’ and tap into the needs remaining,” Lu said.
Michael Spivey, an American politics professor, said “There were non-substantive arguments about student debt as are most debates. There was not a serious discussion of the issue related.”
Despite candidates’ efforts to reach young voters support, many students and faculty questioned whether or not candidates were actively thinking about their situation.
Students’ opinions were diverse as to which candidate won the debate.
Aliyah Downes a sophomore government and political science student said “It was madness on Trump’s part. Hillary was more factual and civil. I appreciate that she tried to appeal to the little guy and college students. Despite the interruptions, it was a clear win on her part.”
However, many students claimed Trump was the winner despite his setbacks. “He was born a winner,” said Ryan Morris, a member of Terps for Trump.
While students like Downes and Morris saw a clear win, many say there is much to be done by both candidates to win their vote.
“Undecided voters who have not yet found a positive reason to actively support one or the other at the polls in November will be the ones choosing the winners and losers of tonight,” said junior business and politics student Jayden Thompson.
“The only reliable indicator, I think, of the public’s response to this debate, and the others that will follow will arrive in November,” said Thompson.
Much anticipation is building up to the November election. The Vice Presidential Debate Watch will be hosted on Oct. 4 for UMD students to get involved and discuss the vice presidential candidates.