Weber State University students and community members gathered in the Shepherd Union Building’s Ballroom A on Tuesday evening to watch 2012’s second televised presidential election debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The Debate Watch was put on by the WSU Student Association’s Leadership Team and sponsored by the American Democracy Project. The presidential debate was shown on two screens, with a third screen displaying Twitter responses to the debates. The WSU event was free and open to the public, and refreshments were served.
“We just feel it’s important,” said Mandie Barnes, leadership vice president. “Lots of students on campus — some don’t have access to cable or to television to watch the debate. We want to make it available for everybody, because we feel it’s really important that people are informed.”
Barnes said attending the Debate Watch is also fun because of the social interaction it offers.
“People get into it. It’s much more fun, I think, than sitting at home in front of my TV watching it. You know, people cheer for Obama, people cheer for Romney, so it’s kind of exciting.”
Erik Strait, a WSU philosophy major who attended the Debate Watch, said he wasn’t too into politics, but that he liked the social aspects of watching the debate on campus.
“I think it’s kind of unique. They’re taking different opinions, letting the students tweet back and forth to each other while they’re doing it. It’s a good incentive — otherwise I might not watch it. It’s easier to stay home and watch something else or just play video games, but here, it’s a chance to socialize.”
Barnes said the Twitter responses were a hit at the Debate Watches. Responses to the debate were shown under the hashtags #ADPDebate, #WSUADP and #WSUDeb2012.
“You can get in conversations with your peers about what you believe and how you feel. You can constantly see what people are thinking coming up on the Twitter feed. We also have the National American Democracy Project, so we see what people are thinking on Twitter at other universities in the nation. It’s really exciting.”
Tuesday’s debate was the second of three presidential election debates, and the only of the three to use a “town hall” format for the debate, meaning the audience — undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization — ask questions and are involved in the debate. Obama and Romney were both given time to answer, and then the moderator, Candy Crowley, CNN’s chief political correspondent, had the opportunity to ask follow-up questions.
On Monday, Oct. 22, WSU will host a Debate Watch for the third and final presidential election debate. This event will also be in the Shepherd Union Building’s Ballroom A at 7 p.m.