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SXU students get a kick out of debate

Students watch presidential debate Saint Xavier University Chicago's South Side Tuesday October 16 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

Students watch the presidential debate at Saint Xavier University on Chicago's South Side Tuesday, October 16, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: November 18, 2012 7:02AM



St. Xavier University students had mixed reviews of Tuesday night’s town hall-style debate pitting President Barack Obama, a Democrat, against Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

With three weeks to go before the Nov. 6 election, 67 students gathered in the Butler Reception Room at the Warde Academic Center to watch the debate on a big-screen TV. They broke into laughter several times as the candidates sparred.

Junior Leslie Rosario, 23, said, “The next presidential election should be a boxing match.”

Other students were not that extreme in their cynicism.

Senior Michelle Thompson, 21, of Chicago’s Garfield Ridge community, thought Obama was a clear winner.

“Barack Obama had a great comeback from the last debate,” Thompson said. “He did a better job explaining his plans for the future. Mitt Romney was unprofessional with all his interruptions.”

Junior Victoria Horsley, 20, of Chicago’s Chatham community, agreed and thought Obama was more sincere.

“I’m leaning more toward Obama because Mitt Romney is not sincere in what he’s talking about,” Horsley said. “Romney talks about taxes and finding jobs for students but he never specifically said what he’s going to do.”

Graduate student Frank Slotkus, 37, of Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community, was surprised Obama has so many supporters at St. Xavier.

“Here we are in a Catholic university, and people are for a candidate who supports abortion. That is hypocrisy,” Slotkus said.

He believes Romney may be a better candidate but has not yet decided whom he will vote for.

Romney will get the vote of Jake Ghinazzi, 21, of Rockford, a senior majoring in business administration.

“I think Romney has a lot more to go after because Obama has been in office for four years. I like Romney’s approach to developing small business,” Ghinazzi said.

Of the sparring, Ghinazzi said, “When you get two leaders in a room, that’s going to happen. Both of them feel their view is right, no matter what other people think.”

Ghinazzi enjoyed watching the facial expressions of each candidate when the other spoke.

Asked whom she will vote for, Rosario had an unusual suggestion.

“I say we repeal the 22nd Amendment and bring back Bill Clinton. These two tonight, they both lie. It’s just a matter of who lies the most,” Rosario said.

Pizza, chips, cookies and pop provided by the university fueled a festive atmosphere.

The turnout was larger than the first debate-watching party, which attracted 23 students Oct. 3, spokeswoman Karla Thomas said.

Students majoring in political science, history and journalism were invited to Tuesday night’s party, she said. One journalism professor brought all 16 of her students from one class, Thomas said.

“We wanted to give the students an opportunity to exercise their civic responsibility, and to get them excited about the election,” Thomas said.

Organizers managed to achieve another goal with the previous debate-watching party, as 10 students registered to vote, Thomas said. The deadline to register since has passed.



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