Disclaimer: The following story, photos, and accompanying items are fictionalized and are part of Saint Leo University’s Alternate Reality Learning Experience (ARLE). The events described did not occur. The characters are fictional and any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.
The presidential debate held in the boardrooms on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. was the perfect occasion for students to show their interest in politics and voice their opinion. The Democratic presidential candidate, Marcus Howard, and the Republican presidential candidate, Paul Friedman, engaged in a confrontation of arguments for an hour and a half that ultimately led to a winner.
Leandrous Chieves, a senior in political science with a minor in legal studies has impersonated Marcus Howard. Mark Saunders, a junior in political science with a minor in economics, has impersonated Paul Friedman. They were asked several questions about the US economy, social problems, and immigration policies. Howard wants to raise taxes in the short term and open our borders to immigrants. Meanwhile Friedman wants to lower taxes and close our borders to immigrants to secure the US people and their jobs.
Although they made it clear that they were not Barack Obama nor Donald Trump, their policies had the same scope as theirs, which allowed the public to relate to the US elections.
As each candidate was defending his position on the subject, the audience was enthusiastically showed their support, making it quite hard for the moderator. Surprisingly, the outcome of the debate was greatly similar to the actual results of the US elections: unpredictable.
With a total of 400 votes cast, Friedman was proclaimed the winner of the presidential debate with 212 votes compared to 188 votes for Howard. He shared his happiness with his family and friends that came to support him.
“I am extremely excited. I mean, the American people saw that my policies were better for the future of our country. So I am really excited to get to work, and to put those policies in action,” said Friedman.
Howard felt that it was a great experience. He expressed his opinion about the event.
“My only quarrels would be that the moderators involved themselves in the debate a little bit too much. They didn’t allow us to get any rebuttals in for the last 30 minutes. So it was things said by my opponent that I wanted to correct, but I wasn’t allowed to correct. And when I tried to correct them, I was basically railroaded by most of the moderators; so I feel that needs to be changed in the future.”
The room was crowded as the audience was waiting with snacks and refreshments. Many students came for various reasons; many to support their candidates, others out of curiosity or just for the fun of being part of the audience. Some people were happy with the results of the debate while others were disappointed. The audience was able to vote for the candidate of their choice after a voting poll was created online.
Joshua Bartholomew, the SGU President, also voiced his opinion on the debate as he was assisting among the audience.
“This is my second time doing this project. Every year, they do this project, and it’s always approved. I like the fact that it allows us to have experience, but at the same time connecting what’s currently going on right now. It’s been a lot of awareness going on in the political world. Tonight has clearly brought that into life. It’s a great way to give students opportunities for their applications,” said Bartholomew.
Even the President of Saint Leo University, Dr. William J. Lennox, expressed his satisfaction.
“I think the event was absolutely great. I think anytime you can get students out of the class, and doing what they’re trying to learn is a great experience. Those students who participated in that will never forget that experience, whether it’s the candidates up there, they learned so much about the debates and the political system, but also people back here working in the media, the criminal justice, doing the security. Those are great lessons that you learn a whole lot better doing than sitting in class.”
Mr. Frank Orlando, the political science instructor, manifested his happiness for the success of the event.
“This year, we decided to do it on Monday, the night before the elections; everyone’s in the right mood. I think it definitely led to a better turn out,” said Professor Orlando. “I think it was a great event. I think everyone had a good time. But also a good learning experience for everyone. People are going to leave this class with something for their portfolio and experience they can use. I’m really happy for everyone that was involved, how well they worked. You can tell how well they prepared. You don’t get to see all the work behind the scenes, but it was all there. I am really proud of them.”
Sydney Early, a senior in marketing and multimedia management, was supporting Friedman and came out highly satisfied with the outcome of the debate.
“Overall I think the candidates did really well arguing back and forth. It’s really entertaining; that’s for sure. They had good policies, and I really think Friedman came hard memorizing a lot of what the policies were. He memorized a lot of Marcus Howard’s campaign and his policies, which I though was really good on his part because he was able to really pinpoint a lot of his… and strengths too. So I think overall Friedman had a really good argument there and that’s what won him the debate,” she said.
Nephtalie Jacques, a senator in SGU and a junior in criminal justice, was in favor of Marcus Howard. Disappointed that her candidate did not win the debate, she nonetheless voiced her thoughts on the effectiveness of the event as she believes it was a success and very educational.
“I feel that the University through the political science program is doing a good job at showing off the students’ capacities at campaigning or debating. As the President of the Debate Club, I feel like there are valid points and skills we should learn from them as a debater. I believe their advisor Frank Orlando is doing an awesome job, and I am thankful that this program has him as an adviser,” said Jacques.
The Campaign and Elections course does not intend to stop here. Emphasis is made on giving students practical knowledge that will help them further in their career. The presidential debate is only one among the many other events of that sort to come.