Approximately 74 students gathered in a lounge at McDaniel College on Wednesday to watch the final debate in the 2016 presidential election. For many of the students, it is the first time they will be able to cast their vote in a presidential election.
The debate party was held by six McDaniel organizations — Global Zero, the Maryland Student Legislature, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Debate and Speech Club, Young Republicans and the Progressive Student Union. After the debate, the six organizations put on a panel to facilitate discussion among the students about the debate, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Some of the students were excited to cast their ballots, while others were deciding to skip the election day frenzy. Students were also a mix when it came to the candidates — some were staunchly voting for Trump or Clinton, whereas others were undecided but almost begrudgingly leaning toward a candidate.
Freshman Amber McDonald said she was excited to vote in her first election and is likely voting for Clinton.
"I'm not a huge fan of either, but I think my vote is going Hillary because I hate her less than Trump," McDonald said.
Junior Torreke Evans also said he leans toward Clinton because she is the better of the two.
During the panel, he asked a Trump supporter where a black, gay man fits in. The supporter told him that Trump working to "make America great again" includes black men and gay men, but it was clear that Evans wasn't so sure.
In an interview, he said that his fear isn't so much because of Trump but instead because of the followers and the hatred they have for people of different races, ethnicities, religion and sexuality. He also fears the backlash after the election is decided, he said.
"I think it's been here forever. I don't think it's going to go away," Evans said.
There were Trump supporters in the audience and panel, including Young Republicans president Marrissa Benko, who said at this time she was planning to vote for Trump. She said he's becoming a more well-rounded candidate, but he has said things that she questions.
"I think that they gave use a very detrimental vote, and it's not something I was planning to be a part of," she said.
Not everyone at the debate watch party was planning to vote or even allowed to vote. Wokie David, a sophomore, is a citizen of Uganda and Liberia, who currently calls Italy home. Since she is not a U.S. citizen, she cannot vote in the election, but if she could she'd vote for Clinton, she said.
As an observer, she said the election is a little scary and different.
"It's definitely different. It is a bit terrifying knowing that these are the two [that] people want to vote for," David said.
People back home are also talking about the U.S. presidential election, and they are also a bit baffled by the Republican candidate, David said.
"Most people I've heard don't want Trump to win, and they're amazed he's made it this far," she said.
And while it was the first election for many, for a handful of students, it's their second or third time voting. It was senior Greg Wilson's third election. The past two times he voted for Barack Obama, he said.
He said compared to the past election, this one is crazier and reminds him of the midterm elections when the Tea Party was at its peak. Like many students, he wasn't in love with either candidate, but was planning to choose Clinton.