It takes a rare event to attract more than 500 students to the courtyard outside the Ronald Tutor Campus Center on a Tuesday evening. The 2012 presidential election did just that.
Students from across the political spectrum, many of whom voted for the first time this November, gathered around a giant screen to watch the results come in live on CNN.
“We did this four years ago in the Annenberg lobby, but because the turnout for our debate watches was so much larger this year, we realized we had to move our election night program outside,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics, a co-sponsor of the event. “I estimate that we’ve seen roughly 500 people tonight, which is about twice what we drew for election night four years ago.”
Giuseppe Robalino, a freshman majoring in business administration, praised students for coming together for this important event, regardless of their political views.
“It’s great in the sense to see all the youth out here together — it shows us that our democratic processes are strong, they’re working,” said Robalino, a member of the USC College Republicans. “It feels great above all to be an American here — to be an American in this day and age with so much turn out and so many people giving a damn about what’s going on in this country and in the world.”
Cheers erupted when CNN announced at 8:20 p.m. that President Barack Obama had been re-elected for a second term, especially from students in Trojans for Obama, who have spent months campaigning.
For USC College Democrats member Victoria Hallebo, a junior majoring in film critical studies, Obama’s victory was a huge win.
“I’m overjoyed. I’m really really excited,” said Hallebo. “I’ve been working on this campaign for basically two years and tonight is finally the night that it has paid off.”
Matt Tsai, a junior majoring in accounting, said he chose to vote for Romney after a lot of deliberation.
“I honestly liked both candidates,” Tsai said. “I feel like the biggest issue in this election was the economy and I felt like Romney is better equipped to handle the economy, so he won my vote by a slim margin.”
Looking forward, students from both political parties are hopeful about the next four years.
“Usually in a president’s first term, they don’t do much,” said Hanh Tranton, a sophomore majoring in biological sciences. “But in their second term, they tend to actually deliver on the promises that they made when they first campaigned. So I’m hopeful that [Obama] will deliver on more actions this time around.”
Aside from watching the live results, students took advantage of free food, photo opportunities with cardboard cutouts of the candidates and the chance to have their portraits done by a caricaturist.
“It’s awesome that we have a campus that we can sit around and come together and watch,” said Alicia Dewell, a sophomore majoring in philosophy. “It was a great bonding experience.”