USF Students React to GOP Debate

Students left the watch party with mixed feelings about the debate and the candidates.


Video: Danielle Barta | USF News


By Daylina Miller

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2012) -  Students inside the packed tent for Monday night’s Republican Presidential Primary Debate at the University of South Florida were full of excitement.


When the screen lit up with images of a camera panning over the Marshall Student Center’s iconic bull statues, students whistled, hollered, and threw bull horns, fists pumping, into the air.


The tent seated 800 and allowed 200 more to stand. Not only was it filled to capacity but for most of the debate, more than 100 students and members of the Tampa Bay community sat on the grass outside the tent peering in at the screen through open flaps.


In the hours leading up the debate, Occupy Tampa protestors and various candidate supporters walked around the MLK Plaza Lawn waving signs, banging drums and chanting.


Once the debate ended, 10 minutes later then anticipated, NBC’s Brian Williams thanked the university for playing host to the debates and signed off with “Go Bulls!” Students at the watch party erupted into cheers.


Students streamed out of the tent, discussing their thoughts on the debate with their friends. Here are just a few reactions:


“I thought it was interesting to hear it. I’m happy it happened at USF and it’s interesting to see where Republicans agree and clash on issue. It’s a way for students and America to get a better idea of who is vying for president.”

-Evan Eastman, junior, finance and economics


“I like that it was here. We have some political activity coming to USF and it got lots of people involved.”

-Kevin Latimore, freshman, biomedical engineering


“I was very pleased with Ron Paul’s response on foreign policy. We have been meddling in the affairs of other people for too long. It’s about time we respect the sovereignty of another nation via trade and not as a result of war.”

-Justin Layland, junior, international studies


“I was definitely excited it was here on campus and that I was able to be a part of the political process. It’s my first time voting because in 2008 I wasn’t 18 yet. I wish they had talked more about healthcare since that’s my field. They touched on the ethics of the Terry Shiavo case and I was disappointed with their responses.”

-Sarah Jo Spears, junior, nursing


“I thought it was great that they offered to students to see the debate and it was good to see all the candidate’s beliefs. I did not know anything about the candidates previously. I only watched the debate because it was on campus and I could come out after class. I wouldn’t have watched it at home.”

-Katie Mayers, junior, nursing


“They kind of sucked at actually answering the questions/”

-Chris Christoff, freshman, biomedical sciences


Daylina Miller can be reached at 813-500-8754.