The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Lafayette Votes!, political organizations host U.S. Senate debate watch party

Photo by Trebor Maitin for The Lafayette
Students from across the political spectrum came together to watch the debate.

Lafayette students gathered in Fairnon atrium on Tuesday for a U.S. Senate debate viewing party hosted by Lafayette Votes!, the Kirby Government and Law Society and the college’s political clubs. Republican candidate Mehmet Oz — better known as Dr. Oz — and Democratic candidate John Fetterman each had 60 seconds to answer questions about topics including the economy, abortion and party leaders in one of the most closely watched debates of the midterm campaign

“Watching a debate like this could really help inform your decision in November about who the best person to represent Pennsylvania and the United States is,” president of the College Democrats Kait Ahern ‘23 said. “I think this [debate] will have a [large] impact. But I’m not sure what that impact is going to be.”

Fetterman suffered from a stroke five months ago, and while he attempted to assure voters of his competence, viewers voiced concerns after he struggled to articulate himself throughout the debate. 

“His delivery on a lot of his responses was, at some points, inarticulate,” Ahern said. “So for your average voter watching that, they might think that means that he might be mentally handicapped, or he might not be able to process things the same way someone else would. So I do think that can negatively impact the Democrats.”

President of the College Republicans Dimitri Chernozhukov ‘25, on the other hand, was impressed with Oz’s oratory skills. 

“I think that [Oz’s] clean, orderly persona does provide this sense of confidence for probably a good portion of voters,” he said. 

While viewers agree that Fetterman’s performance struggled, policy issues continue to divide.

“I mean, I think part of the problem we have right now is the voters [demonstrating] some shift over the past few months, where abortion used to be more of an issue,” Chernozhukov said. “It’s really now sort of moved aside with the economy, and especially with the really high inflation being the biggest driver for voters now.”

Ahern, who is from Scranton, said that Oz seemed out of touch with Pennsylvanians.

“I don’t feel like Oz understands Pennsylvanians very well. We’re working class. We’re rough around the edges,” she said. “We’re not multimillionaires with 10 houses,” she said in reference to the 10 properties that Oz owns. 

The screening, while primarily viewed by active members of political clubs on campus, also drew in some passersby as students saw their peers gather to watch the debate on a large inflatable screen in the Farinon atrium. 

“The idea was to get incidental viewers,” Chernozhukov said. “In the nineteenth century, we had about an eighty percent voter turnout throughout the whole century. Now we’ve dropped off, and obviously encouraging more people to vote is the central idea of Lafayette Votes!.”

Dylan Gooding ’23, the student director of Lafayette Votes!, echoed these comments.

“The goal was to get the bystander walking down from Fairnon from Upper, for example. It can serve as a reminder for, ‘oh, yeah, the elections are coming up. I need to start thinking.’”

Ahern emphasized that this debate was only a small portion of the candidate’s platforms, and encouraged voters to engage in more research.

“Just a reminder that for those who did watch the debate, this shouldn’t completely inform who you vote for,” Ahern said. “Last night, they had 60 seconds to answer where they stood on the most important issues that will impact Pennsylvania for the next six years. If you care enough to learn more, I would suggest going to their website and reading up on it yourself.”

Students registered to vote with their Lafayette College address will be able to do so between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. at the Kirby Sports Center polling station

“Go vote,” Gooding said. “If you are not registered to vote in Pennsylvania, make sure to mail in your absentee ballot. Voting is important. And we want to encourage that.” 

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About the Contributors
Jenny Davis, Staff News Writer
Trebor Maitin
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.

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