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Students tune in to 5th Democratic debate

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With 11 weeks left until the Iowa caucuses, students are tuning in to the contentious race. On Wednesday, nearly 100 students across campus gathered at the Tresidder Arbor to watch the fifth Democratic debate in Atlanta, featuring the top 10 contenders for the 2020 Democratic nomination. 

The event was co-hosted by Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU), Stanford in Government (SIG), Stanford Women in Politics (SWIP) and the Stanford Social Project. The hosts provided Treehouse food and drinks, as well as debate-watching activities such as Bingo. 

“We were really excited about a nonpartisan coalition supporting engagement with what’s going on in the wider world outside of Stanford and providing a positive community space for that,” said SWIP President Sarah Goodman ’20. 

SIG member Bryan Metzger ’20 agreed, explaining that SIG decided to co-host the event in order to “provide students who want to be engaged with politics with a space to listen and discuss with others.” 

“I came to watch the debate because I haven’t found an outlet for political involvement on campus yet,” said Harry Bernolz ’23. “I thought this would be a great place to meet people and engage in political discourse.”

Other students said they have not been very engaged with politics before, but thought the upcoming election would be a great way to start learning about current events.

“I’ve been very detached from this whole process,” said William Shabecoff ’23. “I am hoping to just get a sense of what the candidates are saying so I know a little bit more going into the primary and eventually the general.” 

Other Stanford students have been following every step of the process — Fatima Lopez ’23 is one of them. 

“I am very passionate about advocating for those who are marginalized and silenced in our society, so I feel like it is my duty as a citizen in this country to become informed with what is going on in the political world,” Lopez said.

But for some of these students, who have been consistently watching the debates and reading the news, Wednesday’s conversation was not something to get excited about. 

“I feel like I have been a bit disillusioned with the last few debates because the candidates have been saying the same thing each time and not really listening to each other,” said Bea Phi ’23. “Although the pool is smaller now, I’m just not as excited as I was for the first few debates.” 

This sense of disappointment was echoed by other students, who said they have not found a candidate they could strongly support and believe in. 

“There is just not a contender that stands out for me yet,” said Mac Simpson ’23. “I’m hoping that continuing to watch these debates will give me more clarity on who I want to support.” 

Despite vocalizing a variety of different views on the candidates, the students in attendance expressed a sense of relief and hope when seeing how many of their classmates had decided to attend the event. 

“I’m a little bit worried about the division in this country,” said Paulina Reyes ’20. “But seeing all of the people here tonight really caring about the election and the state of our country gives me hope for the future.” 

Contact Sarina Deb at sdeb7 ‘at’ stanford.edu.