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BU students monitor midterm results at on-campus watch parties

Boston University political science professor Dino Christenson (right) chats with students at a watch party Tuesday night at Student Village 1. SERENA YU/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

By Alex LaSalvia and Conor Kelley

Boston University students gathered in the Warren Towers multipurpose room and in the student atrium in Student Village 1 Tuesday night to watch the 2018 midterm elections.

The Warren Towers election night party, sponsored by faculty-in-residence, the Residence Hall Association and Warren Towers, was organized because of the success of BU’s 2016 election watch party, said Warren Liu, event coordinator for Warren Towers RHA.

At its peak, about 150 students watched the results roll in on the projector screen while enjoying free nachos, cookies and drinks. Organizers showed live coverage from CNN and MSNBC.

Sarah Ferris, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she hadn’t participated in politics much, but she had heard many people discussing the 2018 election on campus and on the news.

“This is kind of new for me,” Ferris said. “Everybody knows this is a really important election, and I thought that this would be a good place for me to go and be surrounded by peers and see the results.”

CAS freshman Abi Akinsete said that as a student from outside the United States, the elections were fun to watch.

“American politics is entertaining to me, because it doesn’t affect me personally because I don’t live here,” Akinsete said, “but it’s fun. It’s kind of like TV but with real-life consequences.”

The audience closely followed the Senate race in Texas. Most of the room seemed to be rooting for Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, with cheers and boos ringing out throughout the night as O’Rourke and incumbent Ted Cruz traded places in the lead.

Rudy Meyer, a freshman in the College of Communication, said he gets invested in politics, and this year was no exception.

“I thought it would be pretty fun to watch everything unfold,” Meyer said. “I really get into politics, I like to keep up with it, and I knew that tonight was going to be really contested between a lot of different races, so I wanted to see how it would play out.”

Meyer was one of many in the room who had been following O’Rourke’s run for senate, and when MSNBC projected Cruz as the winner, he said he was disappointed.

At around 11 p.m., the room grew quiet to hear Democrat Andrew Gillum’s concession speech after he lost the Florida gubernatorial race to Republican Ron DeSantis. Shortly after, the organizers announced that the watch party was over, and people began to file out.

Before she left, CAS freshman Carolyn Bean, who was wearing a blue “March for our Lives” T-shirt, shared her final thoughts about the evening.

“I care a lot about the election,” Bean said. “I figured I would rather watch it with a room full of people who also care a lot about the election than in my dorm room alone, screaming at the television.”

Bean said she was lukewarm about the results of the night.

“It’s more or less how I expected it to turn out, not really great, not really bad,” Bean said. “I’m glad the Democrats got control of the House, but I would’ve liked to see some races go the other way, but all things considered, I feel better about this than I did 2016.”

On the 18th floor student atrium of StuVi 1, about 30 BU students trickled in between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to attend a watch party sponsored by faculty-in-residence and organized by professors Dino Christenson and John Mackey.

Twin TV monitors broadcasted CNN’s live coverage of the midterms results while students moved to and from the communal snack table set up by the faculty-in-residence. Many students worked on homework assignments or conversed with each other as the results came in.

Mackey, a master lecturer of social sciences in the College of General Studies, said he was pleased with the night’s turnout, especially following several voter registration and engagement activities with students throughout the week.

“My anecdotal impression is that the campus seems more energized about voting and politics than I really ever remember,” Mackey said.

Many students, like CAS senior Gowtham Asokan, expressed their excitement about watching the election results live and with company.

“It’s nice to watch the midterms with a group of people where you can talk about it and give live commentary,” Asokan said.

The impact of social media on voter turnout has been a noticeable shift in this midterm season, as many students were apt to point out. COM freshman Zak Schneider said the social pressures and bandwagoning effects resulting from social media have in turn produced more enthused young voters.

“It’s a little bit of peer pressure among younger people to post on social media that they voted,” Schneider said. “It’s sort of like a ripple effect that a lot of people feel the need that they want to vote. Maybe more so than in other years, definitely.”

As the night progressed, so too did election results, and it became clear that the Senate was projected to maintain its Republican majority, while the Democrats became projected to claim a majority in the House of Representatives.

CAS senior Isabella Medrano, a political science major, said she was unsurprised by the Republican grasp on the Senate.

“I’m not surprised by the Senate — was not really holding out much hope for them to turn blue,” Medrano said. “But I think that one of the two bodies being Democratic is going to be a good thing.”

As the night wound down and results projections finalized, several students stuck around to the end. CAS senior Nora Stolzman, also a political science student, expressed her optimism in light of both positive and negative results.

“I am really pleased that, though some of the big races were lost, they were lost by a really close margin,” Stolzman said. “It’s so close we can taste it, but I think that if things continue in this way, it speaks really well to the future of the country, honestly.”

DISCLAIMER: Warren Liu is a features writer for The Daily Free Press.

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