NYU Shanghai takes on the third debate

NYU Shanghai students gather one final time to watch the U.S. Presidential Debates.

As America heads into the final weeks before election day on Nov. 8, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took to the stage one last time to make their case for the Presidency of one of the most powerful nations on earth.

Both candidates had a lot to overcome. Trump, riding on weeks of negative publicity about his lack of policy knowledge, lies, and the infamous “grab her by the p***y” comment, had to prove to a skeptical audience that he had the temperament to be President. Clinton, banking on her years of government and international experience, had to overcome both conspiracy theories and legitimate accusations against the Clinton Foundation, the Benghazi situation, and her missing emails to prove that she is trustworthy enough to lead.

Once again NYU Shanghai students gathered together in an empty classroom to watch the debate live. Organized by sophomore Andreas Strandgaard, the debate screening held a markedly different tone. In contrast to the first two debates, which were largely comedic and antagonistic, both Trump and Clinton seemed to hold their own, not interrupting each other and clearly responding to questions.

Well…at least at first.

Then the conversation spiraled out of control. As the topics turned to gun control, the U.S./Mexico wall and abortion, both Trump and Clinton made jabs at each other. “For me, it’s hard to decide who won because Donald Trump is so childish, always interrupting– “wrong, wrong,’” senior Sophia Noel said.  “Even if I was in Model UN, I would never have respect for someone like that or say that they won. But I wouldn’t be looking at the argument, because I was so distracted by how they talked.”

“I feel like Trump’s arguments throughout all three of [the debates] were the same thing. He wanted to talk about the same things. And every time the moderator would try to ask him a prodding question, he would explicitly say “I’d like to talk about something else now,” said freshman Alexandra Mathew. In fact, that seemed to be the general attitude towards the debates and the election in general. “They’re quite sad,” freshman Viktorija Ruzelyte agreed.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Ivan Rasmussen was also in attendance, and shared his thoughts with the audience after the debate had concluded. “My opinion in this regard is that the first half was won by Donald Trump. I think he did a good job of rattling her, which I thought was problematic for Clinton. [Clinton] needed to hit home more on Donald’s mistreatment of women. I think the reason [that she didn’t] is that she was trying to be more presidential, but I think she had to be more honest about it.”

To conclude, Rasmussen asked all remaining students to participate in an experiment. With eyes closed, students raised hands to indicate whether they thought Trump or Clinton won. After Rasmussen counted, the majority believed Clinton had won the debate. “There’s a third option I forgot to mention,” Rasmussen said. “Neither of them won.” A few students muttered their agreement, clearly despondent as the election slumps on towards its uncertain end.


This article was written by Savannah Billman. Please send an email to managing@oncenturyavenue.com to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Salon

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