Written by Patrick Scriven
Southern Votes, a student-led voter registration and engagement program at Southern Adventist University, has been hosting presidential and vice presidential debate watch parties at Brock Hall.
Xavier Snyder, junior history education major and director of Southern Votes, said he plans to hold an event for every debate because he wants to give students the opportunity to vote with confidence in the presidential election.
“We decided to host these watch parties because one of Southern Votes’ goals is to give students the information they need to vote,” Snyder said. “These debates are a direct way of allowing voters to hear from the candidates themselves, and so we wanted to make that an option and a collective event for Southern students.”
Clayton Powell, senior theology major, has attended both debates thus far. He, too, expressed the importance of being informed in the current political climate.
“This is a huge year, and I would even say this is the biggest election of our lifetime,” Powell said. “So, it’s incredibly important to be informed.”
Powell also mentioned the benefits he sees in coming together and discussing politics with peers.
“I think it would be healthy for students to be able to share their convictions if it’s done in a positive, constructive way,” Powell said. “It’s great to be with fellow students, and it’s nice being in a classroom together with others so we can talk about it.”
The tone of the first two debates was strikingly different and evoked various reactions among students. Maddy Thomas, senior history education major, also attended the first two debates and noticed this difference.
“The first debate was difficult to watch,” Thomas said. “It felt like an hour and a half long argument between two people trying to talk over each other. I thought it was annoying—the yelling back and forth. It was very unprofessional. The second debate, however, was a lot more interesting. I could actually hear the questions and understand the answers. It was more poised and clear.”
Southern Votes plans to host watch parties for the remainder of the election period. However, debates have been put on hold since last Friday when news broke that the upcoming presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden would be cancelled. The debate, originally planned for Oct. 15, has been postponed until further notice after President Trump said he wouldn’t participate in a virtual discussion.
According to Snyder, students can still do their part in learning about the candidates by doing research online and finding ways to get involved in local campaigns.