The UMKC political science department paired with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) to bring students the 2016 Presidential Debate with front row seats and free pizza.
Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton took the stage Monday night at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York while over 250 UMKC students and faculty looked on from the patio of Pizza 51.
Students watched intently with pizza in hand as the nominations covered topics such as race relations, student debt, nuclear weapons, criminal justice reform, energy, and cyber hacking.
Christine Hoober, president of ASUM, greeted student as they walked through the gates of Pizza 51 with a voter registration booth and free t-shirts.
“It’s your civic duty to vote, if everyone thinks voting doesn’t matter that is a huge swath of the population that is allowing old white men to make decisions, ” Hoober said.
Hoober says that voting is a privilege, and although it’s easy to get discouraged when your candidate loses, it is up to students to set the political tone of our nation and create change.
Dr. Mona Lyne, Chair of the Political Science Department, focused on the importance of students attending an event like this.
“It’s a rare privilege to choose your leaders,” Lyne said. “It’s very important to make informed decisions.”
Lyne says that attending an event like this is a good chance for students to interact with the political science department and other students who are interested in politics.
After finding their seats and grabbing a slice of pizza, students began conversing on the night ahead of them and the importance of watching the debate so they can stay informed and make educated decisions come November.
“Students have been traditionally leaders in progressive movements pushing the envelope forward, but they’re underrepresented in traditional politics so it’s important for students to come forward and make their voice heard,” said UMKC student Nathan Cho.
Justin Longmeyer, UMKC student, stressed the importance of students being active in the political realm and the influence they have on policy.
“Students need to get to know the candidates,” Longmeyer said. “Bernie Sanders is a good example of young people influencing political policy and influencing change in a political mindset.”
As the debate went on the intensity of the debate between Trump and Clinton climbed, as did the crowd’s reaction to their responses. With each response from the candidates, attendees clapped and cheered for their candidate, as well as objected to the candidate that they opposed.
Lyne says that if it weren’t for Jason Pryor, owner of Pizza 51, and the staff, the night wouldn’t have gone as smoothly, and that they are looking forward to holding future events there. The next debate watch party and voter registration drive is Sunday Oct.9th at Pizza 51. If you want to contact Dr. Lyne or Christine Hoober for further questions on events or interest in their organizations, they can be contacted at @email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org