Students at the RITZ debate screening on September 26 were anxious to support their parties, learn about candidates and be thoroughly entertained in the first head-to-head match between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. 

Some students were undecided coming to the debate but many came prepared to showcase campaign pride by sporting Trump and Clinton campaign attire such as the “Make America Great Again” cap or “Anyone But Trump” T-shirt. When the candidates walked onto stage the room roared with “arrest Hillary!” and “f**k Trump!” cheers. As expected, the more passionate students never failed to voice their opinions as they openly commented throughout the debate chanting both praise and disapproval. Yet, laughter dominated the audience as students cajoled over the harsh language, shameless arguing and not-so-subtle digs each candidate took upon the other.

What Was Said

Of course the news media will replay those controversial soundbites, the back and forth squabbling and endless mudslinging but the debate was not completely devoid of all sustenance (although it was definitely lacking). Moderator Lester Holt asked many hard-hitting questions on the economy, criminal justice and national security and in between the bickering, real policy initiatives were relayed.


Clinton’s Stance

  • Intends to raise minimum wage
  • Supports “Equal Pay for Equal Work”
  • Federally guarantee paid family leave and sick days
  • Affordable child care
  • Raise taxes for the wealthy
  • Close loopholes corporations use to avoid taxes

Trump’s Stance

  • Affordable childcare
  • Reduce income taxes “tremendously” from 15 percent–35 percent for all businesses
  • Renegotiate trade deals and tariffs
  • Cut red tape restricting businesses
  • Stop jobs from going to foreign countries such as Mexico and China

Race Relations

Clinton’s Stance

  • Acknowledges racial discrimination
  • Wants to rebuild trust between communities and police departments
  • Plan to reform police training and criminal justice system
  • Does not support “Stop & Frisk” procedures
  • Expand second chance programs
  • Cease the discriminatory mass incarceration of black and Hispanic males
  • Eliminate private prisons
  • Ban people on the “no-fly lists” from purchasing guns
  • End public’s accessibility to “military-style” weapons
  • Expand treatment for mentally ill

Trump’s Stance

  • Enforce “Law & Order” in hotspot areas
  • Tighten borders to reduce crime committed by illegal immigrants
  • Expand “Stop & Frisk”

Foreign Issues 

Clinton’s Stance

  • Russia, China and Iran are threats in regards to cyberattacks
  • Push ISIS out of Iraq by forming a multinational coalition including Middle Eastern allies and NATO to take out their leadership
  • Support Iran Deal
  • Reduce proliferation of nuclear weapons

Trump’s Stance

  • U.S. needs to be more aggressive in cyber warfare with ISIS
  • Defeat ISIS by seizing oil fields
  • Claims the withdrawal from Iraq formed power vacuum that created ISIS
  • Disapproves of Iran Deal
  • NATO allies should contribute more financially and with terror
  • Germany, Japan, and South Korea should pay for U.S. for protection

Student Comments

Proud Trump supporter and second year student in International Global Studies John Hasay sat at a table with his peers as they wholeheartedly cheered on their candidate throughout the debate. Hasay appreciates Trump’s stances on the economy and illegal immigration the most, describing him as very pro-American. He did express some concern on Trump pushing religious morals in his platform, but still would never consider voting for Clinton. Hasay was irritated that the media one-sidedly pushes Clinton as “The” candidate without fairly considering Trump.

“He speaks as a candidate to Americans who are sick and tired of the politically correct. Clinton is pandering to the voters who are traditionally liberal,” Hasay said.

Clinton supporter and first year 3D animation student Ryan Platt is not very passionate about having Clinton as his candidate, but feels she’s the best option in this election cycle. Platt described Trump’s debate performance of lacking “sustenance” while Clinton had “a better air of professionalism.” He equated voting for Trump to “a vote for racism” and said the debate only reaffirmed his beliefs about the candidates.

“It’s gonna take a lot for me to sway to look at Trump as a figure of trust. No matter what he says, they’re both politicians and are wishy-washy,” Platt said.

Neutral observer and second year software engineering graduate student Silva Matti, on the other hand, is an international student who cannot vote but keeps up with American politics because she finds it interesting. Matti explained both candidates have their pros and cons. She feels the media “demonizes” Trump more than is necessary but adds that he phrases many of his policies inappropriately. Matti came to the debate screening to gauge her peers reactions and noticed that students were more focused on hating candidates they disliked than supporting the candidate they were actually voting for.

“I’ve been watching the debates since the primaries and saw a lot of things I didn’t expect to happen. I’m from Iraq – 15 years ago we didn’t have elections, and when we did it was so corrupt. I wanted to see the American model for democracy,” Matti said.

Undecided voter, life-long conservative and third year New Media Design transfer student Nathan Nasby is very internally distraught this election cycle. Nasby describes himself as usually having very strong opinions about candidates and is surprised he cannot make up his mind. He recognizes that within a society you have to learn to work with people who are “divisive and disrespectful,” but feels Trump is too offensive in his rhetoric.

“I feel my whole moral foundation has been shattered,” Nasby said.