Political climate proves to be polarizing Reply

By Claire Crittendon, Taylor Viles, Rebecca Osowski & Rayana PetroneCo-Editor-in-Chief, Sports Editor & 1851 Staff

The first presidential debate that took place on September 29 in Cleveland, Ohio. Graphic by Katie Peters

On September 29, President Trump and Vice President Biden took to the stage in Cleveland, Ohio for the first 2020 Presidential Debate. One week later, Vice President Pence and Senator Harris appeared live from Salt Lake City, Utah for the Vice Presidential debate.

The effects of these debates rattled the nation, including our own campus.

Political Communication Professor John Guilfoil offered some insight on how he felt the debates and upcoming election are affecting Lasell. “… I have not noticed a divide. I do have some very politically active students who have very clear opinions that they are happy to share in their classes.”

He notes this is due to the safe and accepting community we have on campus. However, Guilfoil also mentioned “… conservative college students struggle to assert themselves on many campuses, especially in the north.”

Guilfoil shared some perspective on the debates, “I think that debate did a lot of damage to Trump’s campaign because there was nothing that made it seem like the average American would want four more years of this level of aggression, lack of civility, anger a lot of that was sort of popularized in 2016. But the way the president came off in 2020’s debate may actually harm him in this situation.”

Co-leader of Lasell Votes Anna Sarneso choses to educate herself on different candidates through their respectives websites instead of by the debates. Though she does watch, she doesn’t think they are the best way to understand candidates’ policies. “[The presidential candidates] sort of pivot whenthey talk, they hit like a talking point … sometimes it’s way off topic.”

When asked about the first presidential debate, junior Nicolas Brown said, “While I am settling for Biden, the debate only confirmed my beliefs that Trump is an incompetent person, never-mind president.” He continued to say, “I can’t imagine a universe where I as a liberal gay person can get behind Trump’s policies, especially in regards to environmental, LGBTQ+ and race issues.”

“The only thing [the Presidential] debate definitively did was highlight the problems our country has and how doomed we are if these two senile, white, capitalist 70-year-olds are our best choices to fix the many woes we face,” said senior Nate Brady.

Junior Maddy Hedges also was not enthused by the first debate. “It was just really uninformative. You didn’t get much out of it, it was kind of disappointing.” Hedges continued to say, “I don’t think [Trump is] a white supremacist, but it looks really bad. He made himself look really bad.”

While disappointed by both parties, Brady has noted an increase in students’ passion for politics. “My only worry is that this may have come too little too late,” said Brady, “Don’t get me wrong, I think it is wonderful that people are taking action and becoming politically conscious, I just hope that regardless of the outcome of the election, that they continue to do so and keep fighting … Plainly stated, there is no place for hate of any kind at Lasell.”

Hedges described Lasell’s current political climate as “hostile” for conservative students. However, she always feel encouraged by her professors to share her views in classroom discussions and debates.

Hedges thinks students speak their minds more honestly in online classes, saying things in Zoom they may not say in person, though, “[she does] think that they’re pretty well monitored.”

Sarneso thinks political discussions are important to have, though she understands they can be tough. “I think it’s even harder on Zoom, because you cannot immediately get sort of feed- back from other people who might be face-to- face with you.”

Lasell Votes hosted a debate watch party via Zoom on October 22, and is hosting a virtual panel on October 23.

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