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Gonzaga Prof, Students Watch, Share Thoughts About Presidential Debate

Courtesy of Zoom/C-Span

Many of us watched Tuesday’s presidential debate alone in our own living rooms. But a Gonzaga debate professor decided to throw a virtual party with more than 60 students and colleagues. 

In past Presidential election years, Glen Frappier, who is Gonzaga’s debate director, has gathered in-person with his students and other colleagues to watch the candidates. Since that wasn’t an option Tuesday night, he invited people to a Zoom room instead, "to just have them do a thoughtful, intentional reading of the debate and I’m not sure we were able to do that, given what we saw," Frappier said.

As the event unfolded, the participants wrote their thoughts in the chat box.

Doug: “I jotted down some of what I thought were the most pithy lines from some of your participants. ‘This is hard to watch.’ ‘Trump has been speaking so much I forgot Biden was there.’ There was a lot of that. People really felt let down.”

"Let down in the sense that, not necessarily surprised. I think everyone would have appreciated more of an indepth discussion on the actual substantive issues versus what we saw. I think in that sense they were let down," he said.

After the debate, Frappier opened up the microphones and asked for reactions.

Female voice 1: “I think the point of this was to get Biden to break, to get him to start rambling because I think, empirically, when Biden starts rambling, he says things that aren’t entirely good for him.”

Female voice 2: “I honestly thought that it was slightly embarrassing to be watching it in favor of Trump or if you were undecided, just watching him interject all the time and never letting anybody finish a sentence.”

Male voice: “I’ve spent so many years teaching my children and now my grandchildren never to act like both of those men just acted.”

For next week’s vice presidential debate, Frappier is collaborating with debate programs at three other universities around the nation, including Georgetown, for a debate watch. That will be followed immediately by a separate watch event for the only scheduled Washington gubernatorial debate between Jay Inslee and his Republican challenger, Loren Culp.

As for the next event between Trump and Biden, “I think if there are two more debates, which right now I’m not convinced there will be, then we’ll definitely have something going," Frappier said.

One participant suggested Tuesday night, “They need to have a speaking stick for the next debate.”