Presidential debate on full display for students

By Stacie Guevara, Scene Editor

In order to get Contra Costa College students more involved with the current political atmosphere in the U.S., the Community Organization of Political Action (COPA) Club held a watch party for the fifth Democratic Presidential Candidate Debate on Nov. 20.

The watch party was held in Fireside Hall and was originally slated to start at 5 p.m., but ended up starting at 6 p.m. and ended shortly after 8 p.m.

A livestream of the debate was projected and COPA even set up a smaller screen to project its live chat from

COPA Club President Elishes Cavness said he was speaking to Erica Watson, electronic/audiovisual services librarian, who told him about Padlet.

Cavness said he learned from Watson that Padlet was an easy and useful way to get everyone to participate in a conversation about the debate and offer those engaged the ability to post comments anonymously.

It also provided a civil forum to discuss the debate without getting into heated arguments.

COPA projected a link on screen and people started joining and posting comments anonymously.

Pizza and water bottles were also provided by COPA to attendees.

Upon entry, students had to sign in and state whether they could vote or not and if they were interested in helping others who cannot vote.

COPA Vice President Alfredo Angulo and Inter-Club Council representative Kimyatta Newby even set up a registration table to help students register to vote and learn about voting for the upcoming primaries.

Angulo said the deadline to register to vote in the primaries is Feb. 25, 2020.

Students also had the opportunity to put their names on a raffle ticket for a chance to win either a piece of jewelry — a Pandora brand bracelet — or a spring 2020 parking permit.

Political science major Cynthia Almaraz won the bracelet while Middle College High School student Chidambaram Sendan won the parking permit.

The Padlet chat was on screen throughout the entire debate and kept people focused on the issues discussed in the debate, for the most part.

Newby said the chat was energizing and it made students pay more attention to what the candidates were actually saying.

Though there were 10 Democratic presidential candidates on stage. Many students were in support of Andrew Yang and Bernie Sanders.

Music major Jorge Altamirano is an avid fan of Sanders, but also a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient.

Though he cannot vote or even register to do so, Altamirano is very involved in politics and loved that COPA held this event.

He said it shows the college has an interest in politics.

Students were engaged in the live chat most of the time, but some started posting pictures and inappropriate memes in the chat. The shenanigans earned a few laughs from the crowd but was deemed inappropriate for the setting.

COPA removed the images and the jokesters stopped before it became a big issue.

Near the end of the debate, Cavness posed questions over the messaging system, asking whether the candidate that students had in mind to vote for had changed or not.

He also asked attendees that if the election were the next day, who would they vote for?

Most students continued to anonymously voice their support for Sanders and Yang.

Cavness also said he was surprised at the turnout.

“At this time of the semester, I’m surprised that a lot of people showed up,” he said.

Cavness said the event was easy to get together because COPA had everything set up from a previous debate watch party set for Oct. 15.

Unfortunately, that event was canceled due to the PG&E blackouts.