Voted ‘class activist’ in her high school yearbook’s senior superlatives, Elise Barnathan, a freshman psychology major, sat in the front row of the Presidential Democratic Debate screening sponsored by Civic Engagement Initiatives Oct. 15. The event was designed to increase student participation in government and politics.
A poll conducted by The Panther found that only 26 out of 100 Chapman students watched the Democratic debate. Many claimed they were too busy with schoolwork and personal matters. During the democratic debate, Barnathan’s shirt spelled ‘ENOUGH,’ the motto of the 2018 National School Walkout after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. A candidate’s stance on gun control is very important to Barnathan, as she also referenced the Sandy Hook Shooting.
“If a shooting of elementary schoolers was not enough to make people of power do something, then I don’t know what will,” Barnathan said. “It’s really frustrating because it’s clear that everyone across the political spectrum has the same goal: stopping school shootings. People have different ideas about the best solution and I’m personally against all guns.”
Appalled that the United States has not had a female president, Barnathan said the next president should be someone who represents a “first.” For example, she stated Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish president, Elizabeth Warren would be the first female president and Kamala Harris would be the first female president of color.
“The President is the face of the country. Right now I am embarrassed and I don’t want to feel that way,” Barnathan said. “I want to feel proud of who is in office.” Brianna Schatt, a freshman peace studies major who attended the debate screening, described her ideal candidate as someone who is “not a talker because actions speak louder than words.”
“I want someone who stands by what they have to say and doesn’t just spit words out. That is something we lack in our current President,” Schatt said. “He makes all these general statements and does not follow through with them.”
Schatt wants a candidate who has prior government experience, but stated that having someone younger in office could be beneficial.
“There are a lot of good candidates who are older and knowledgeable, such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders,” Schatt said. “But there is something refreshing that comes with younger people, like this energy for change and understanding of younger generations.”
Max Lopez, the president of Chapman Democrats, was glad the candidates received difficult debate questions about health care and gun control, but was disappointed that climate change was not mentioned. Although passionate about politics, Lopez said that watching a three-hour debate can be difficult for students to do because they may be busy doing homework and research projects.
“Lower polling candidates already aren’t getting speaking time. If they were to drop out, the debate time would be lowered and (people) would get to hear more meaningful dialogue instead of only 75 seconds,” Lopez said.
Surrounded by mini American flags and voter registration packets, approximately 35 students attended the screening. Hanna Marcus, the lead Civic Engagement assistant, helped plan the event and encouraged students to expand their knowledge of political issues and voice their opinions by registering to vote.
“Having this knowledge about what is going on in the world is so empowering,” Marcus said. “I want to help give people that sense of power.”