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Students reflect on GOP debate viewing in Robinson Theater


By: Ryan Thompson, Features Editor
When the candidates introduced themselves Thursday, the audience inside UNF’s Robinson Theater cheered the loudest for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Because of the lack of tickets offered to students for the Lazzara Performance Hall, the setting for the debate, the university held a watch party for students in the neighboring Robinson Theater. The crowd gave the remaining candidates — Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum — bouts of cheers and applause. If any dissidents from the Democratic side filed into the theater, they kept quiet during points of opposition.

“I definitely took a lot more out of it, being able to experience it with a group of my peers,” said Carley Robinson, a UNF communication junior.

Robinson said watching the debate was a unifying experience.

The audience unified during moments of Jacksonville and UNF shout-outs — such as when CNN cut to a take of Student Body President Matt Brockelman and Senate President Carlo Fassi — and when lighter moments revealed the candidates’ hilarity.

“We all laughed at the same things,” she said.

Other students reveled in the ability to watch it with their fellow students and classmates.

“I think I enjoyed it more than I thought I would,” said Nancy Winckler-Zuniga, a UNF communication senior.

The students felt opposition in terms of who won the debate in their eyes. Robinson said she admired Paul’s performance, even though she doesn’t like his positions.

Winckler-Zuniga said Gingrich surprised her, as she’s been around long enough to see Gingrich as a loose cannon since the inception of his political career. She expressed concern for what Santorum said about Latin America and immigration laws.

“I don’t think any of them understand what it’s like to come to this country,” said Winckler-Zuniga, who has family in Latin America.

While national issues concerned these communication students, they took time to remark on how UNF benefited from the debate.

Winckler-Zuniga said the event put UNF on the proverbial map.

“It’s a big deal for UNF to be recognized as a stage worthy of an event like this,” Robinson said.

By: Ryan Thompson, Features Editor
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