By SYDNEY RIEMER
IDEAL, a nonpartisan student group that raises awareness of political issues, held its first debate viewing of the 2016 Presidential election race on Wednesday. Around 30 students attended the event to watch the second Republican Party (GOP) debate of the race in Hodson Hall.
Unlike other partisan political groups on campus like the College Republicans and College Democrats, IDEAL, which stands for Inform, Discuss, Enlighten, Acknowledge and Learn, wants to inform students, so that they can form their own opinions on the important political issues that face the United States.
“We are unbiased in that we are not trying to espouse any political belief,” sophomore Sarah Harrison, the group’s Secretary of Education, said.
Throughout the debate the group had live polling of the student audience and projected the responses in real time. Students were encouraged to bring their iClickers to participate in the polling, or were loaned one if desired. The iClicker questions were asked to students based on what the candidates said during the debate.
“I think it’s really cool that we can see in live-time how other students of Hopkins feel about what the candidates are saying just because I’ve never really had that before,” freshman Clarissa Chen said.
The audience erupted into laughter after candidate Mike Huckabee called the GOP candidates the “A Team” during his introduction.
While some students may have been there because they wanted to see what the candidates had to say about the issues, others were there to watch the way the candidates interacted with each other, sometimes humourously.
“I came for the entertainment factor, as I imagine most people did. But it’s still interesting to see [the candidates] try to find their own niche and how they do that,” sophomore Darius Mostaghimi said. “But I also liked the format of this event. I saw some people treat the clicker stuff as a joke, clicking the opposite of what they mean sometimes, but I like the idea.”
However, junior IDEAL founder and president Liam Haviv thinks that it is crucial to take the debate seriously.
“We wanted to do this because it’s important that people watch and take it in. We have the fact checker up, and we’re taking notes and we want people to stop and think, ‘Is what they’re saying true?,’” he said. “There were strong statements about Planned Parenthood, and we wanted to know, are those statements true?”
The debate featured the candidates discussing issues such as immigration reform and terrorism, while it also touched on some more personal issues, such as candidate Donald Trump’s remarks on candidate Carly Fiorina’s appearance.
Other students, like freshman Julia Zimmerman, thought that the student audience’s response to the issues was the highlight of the event.
“There is definitely a trend [in the student polls], and I think it’s interesting to see the trend there. It’s interesting to see how quickly the poll changes and the vigor with which people respond and it’s an exciting thing to observe,” Zimmerman said.
IDEAL will be hosting a discussion about the debate next week where it will go over the polling data they collected and fact-check.
“Other student groups like the College Republicans, College Democrats, they hold similar events, but we didn’t want something that was by virtue of their very name [encouraging] some people to go and not others, a place where everyone could go and argue about things, talk about things, listen to all of it and think freely without the constrictions of a party,” Haviv said. “We wanted to see the data from people, have a discussion with both sides and thoughts and have that open forum to do it.”