CU students shut out of attending GOP debate hold watch parties

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BOULDER, Colo. -- As 10 presidential candidates took the stage at the Coors Events Center on Wednesday night, hundreds of University of Colorado students crowded together across campus to watch.

“I really wanted to come here tonight to see youth engagement,” CU doctoral student Jaime Lee Kirtz said.

A large number of CU students said they wanted to be engaged in Wednesday’s debate but felt the candidates left them out.

“Today just walking around campus, you hear a lot of conversations about the GOP being in town and how students aren’t being included,” senior English major Spencer Carnes said.

All day students held different events in protest of the Republican National Committee and CNBC’s decision to only allow 50 students in for the debate.

Dozens marched across campus demanding candidates address topics such as climate change, women’s rights and LGBT issues. Another group called #StudentVoicesCount broadcast a live three-hour panel discussion focusing on youth engagement.

“The issue has presented an opportunity for student activism on campus that we haven’t seen here at CU Boulder for a long time,” Carnes said.

Hundreds poured into the Glen Miller Ballroom for a university-sponsored debate watch party. The reaction from the crowd after an hour of debate was that the candidates seemed fake and did not tackle issues important to young people.

“I don’t think that they’re actually addressing a lot of the issues. I think they talk around a lot of the issues,” Kirtz said.

Kirtz said a lot of students watched the debate with an open mind and could have been swayed Wednesday.

That likely did not happen for many of the students in attendance. Kirtz said she hopes candidates will keep young voters in mind as the election cycle moves forward.

“I was really surprised with all of the students and the fact that they were so open. They weren’t like ‘Oh, I’m just here to laugh at the Republicans.’ They were very much here to listen,” Kirtz said.

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