Students were pleasantly surprised by the scope of issues that were discussed at the fifth Democratic primary debate, which included issues like foreign policy, paid family leave and health care.
Nearly 75 students watched the debate in the Wallis Annenberg Hall Forum at a viewing hosted by the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy.
Attendees came out in full support of their preferred candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, businessman Andrew Yang and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
“I think [Buttigieg] is doing a great job,” said Yoko Rosenbaum, a campus coordinator for Trojans for Pete. “I think that his answers exemplify exactly why I’m supporting him for president.”
She and five other members held Buttigieg posters and handed out stickers that read “Team Pete 2020” to attendees.
Students from Trojans for Warren handed out Warren- themed baked goods and held posters that read, “Dream Big, Fight Hard, Warren.” Krishan Patel, the secretary for Trojans for Warren, donned a liberty green Warren T-shirt.
“A lot of the Trojans for Warren showed up, and we were really happy with that,” he said.
The debate, held at the Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta, covered issues ranging from the impeachment inquiries to federal drug policy and white supremacist violence, especially regarding Black people and marijuana policy.
Throughout the debate, there were moments of significance, like the exchange between former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Cory Booker on the legalization vs. decriminalization of marijuana in the United States and Buttigieg’s affirmation of his experience, despite not being in Washington.
“They’re covering a lot of topics they weren’t before,” said Tom Drzik, a freshman majoring in intelligence and cyber operations. “I think they talked about foreign policy a lot more, which I really liked, because they haven’t talked about that much in the past debates, so overall, I’m happy with how it’s going.”
Rachel Holzer, a sophomore majoring in political science and international relations, said she appreciated the candidates’ discussion of housing issues like the lack of housing units made available and the homelessness crisis.
“I think talking about gentrification is really important, and I think people avoid it sometimes going to USC, so I’m glad that was brought up,” she said.
Ambar Dange, a freshman majoring in international relations global business, said he wished candidates would have talked more about their plans to address environmental issues like climate change and reaching net-zero carbon emissions.
“There has to be a serious plan of action about how to take on climate change and in form of what kinds of policy because policy debates is what American voters will be looking for and climate change is one of the most important topics that universally affects everyone regardless of whether they’re Democrat or Republican,” Dange said.
Drzik said he talked to some students who didn’t know about the Wednesday Democratic debate, so he was pleased to see a screening hosted on campus to encourage students to get involved and educate themselves on candidates’ platforms.
“Regardless of whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, but especially if you’re a Democratic voter, this is going to be really important, and it’s not far away either,” Drzik said. “Actually seeing what [the candidates] have to say and how they compare to one another, I think it’s really important. If we’re in college, most of us are going to be voters … so I think it’s really great.”