By Olivia Cyr, Contributing Writer 

Over 80 students crowded The Landing last Monday night to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump square off in the first 2016 Presidential Debate.

The viewing party was sponsored by the UMF College Republicans and College Democrats, both on-campus clubs that seek to educate and inform the community about the importance of politics.

Opinions from viewers of the debate encompassed a similar thought—that it was “a circus,” and “disastrous,” among other descriptions. Senior environmental science major and president of the College Democrats, Nick Bray, described the events of the Monday night viewing party and the debate.

Bray reported that the co-sponsor clubs had a “record turnout” at the viewing, and said that the goal to give people a place and an opportunity to learn was a success.

“I think that as part of my club, it’s my duty to inform people about the issues as much as they can be,” said Bray, “and this year the issues are pretty significant. We have two candidates who, for the most part, are not very well liked, but that’s the situation we’re in.”  

Bray also stressed how important this election could be to the UMF community. Said Bray, “We have a lot to consider. [As students], we’re going to graduate into a future where the president who’s in charge is going to make a huge difference in whether or not we’ll struggle to pay back our student loans, or even get a job.”

Other debate watchers also gave their opinion of the debate, expressed concerns, and highlighted the importance of this year’s election.

Sophomore secondary education major and president of the College Republicans, Isaac Michaud, said this is the first election he will be voting in. Like other students who have kept up with these candidates, Michaud believes being an informed voter is incredibly important. He noted that Trump and Clinton engaged in much, “bickering back and forth,” but says it was nonetheless, “informative to see the two candidates actually talking to each other.”

When asked what people might learn from this election, Michaud responded, “Money and politics can definitely change things.” Michaud noted that this debate will hopefully make newer voters look more closely at the candidates in the future. “Participating in voting is the best thing anyone can do,” Michaud stressed.

Allison Bernier, a sophomore studying history and political science, also weighed in on the importance of this election. “We are going to be the ones cleaning up from this election,” Bernier explained via text. “If they go into debt or start a war, it’s going to be our responsibility to end it when we’re older.”

Bernier also reminded students of the importance of getting to the polls this November. “Their idea that their vote doesn’t matter because they are young or because this isn’t a swing [state] is a false one. If everyone who voted thought that, they could change everything.”

The College Republicans’ and Democrats’ will also be hosting viewings of the Vice Presidential debate on October 4th and the final Presidential Debate on October 19th. Both events will be held in the Landing at 9pm.

An election issues forum will also be held on October 19th where The Maine Citizens for Clean Elections and the Committee for Ranked Choice Voting will be speaking on politics and election races. The event is being held in the Landing at 7pm.

The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring a candidate’s breakfast and open forum at UMF for legislative candidates on October 12th.

College Democrats will also hold a party in The Landing on November 8th to watch the election returns come in, from 8pm to midnight.

More information on these events can be found in The Daily Bulldog, on the FCCC website, and on the College Democrats’ Facebook page.