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Students watch presidential debate, consider first vote

By Carolina Astrain
Oct. 3, 2012 at 5:03 a.m.

Sitting in the front row closest to the television Mariela Chavar, Johnny Ellzey and Carly Guidry watch the presidential debate on one of three televisions with other students during a watch party at the University of Houston-Victoria's Jaguar Hall.

He showed up to the party alone.

The freshman was at a University of Houston-Victoria's dormitory lounge to cheer on the Republican Party, despite his doubts of their nominated candidate.

"It's going to be hard for him to beat Obama," Colton Martin said. "He's not that great of a debater."

By the time the debate started, about 50 other UHV students joined the Alabama-native and watched Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama in the first debate leading up to the Nov. 6 election.

For Martin and most of the other students at the lounge Wednesday night, this will be their first election to vote.

Martin registered to vote the morning before the first debate.

"I've always been interested in politics," Martin said. "I'm here because I want to know who I'm voting for."

One loveseat and an armchair away from Martin sat Mariela Pozos.

The Fort Worth native said she's pulling for the candidate who best supports the Dream Act, which favors a progressive citizenship process for the children of undocumented immigrants.

"I have family members looking forward to it so they can go to school," Pozos said.

The freshman said she started paying attention to the political race before moving to campus.

"My parents pushed me to get myself registered before school started," said Pozos, as she chimed in on a live online chat for her government class. "I also support standardizing health care."

Pozos' roommate Jasmine Pineda said her party affiliation is still up in the air.

"I remember watching the debates in 2008," Pineda said. "Usually I go with what my parents decide, but this time I want to go my own way."

The Victoria County's Democratic Party hosted the watch party exclusively for UHV students.

But that didn't stop Shields Elementary music teacher Jeremy Green from attending.

"I don't have cable," said Green, who said he was tipped off by a friend. "This debate is important because we finally get to see the candidates confront each other about what they've been saying behind each other's backs."

At end of the debate's first hour, Martin was starting to get restless in his chair.

"Romney is doing better than I thought he would," Martin said. "But Obama is still making better points."

Leaning against the snack food counter, sophomore Bryce Henry thought differently.

"Romney has been doing really well," Henry said. "I like what he's been saying about more jobs and financial aide, but I still plan on voting for Obama."



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