Tubs of cookie dough, discussions of the Hunger Games and serious intellectual debate accompanied the Tuesday night election watch party of students on the sixth floor of Hatch Hall.
When President Barack Obama’s re-election was announced on CNN, rowdy cheers and silent sighs dominated the crowd of 24 students simultaneously.
“I’m so happy because I get to keep my student aid,” freshman Leia Brown said. “Being a Chicagoan just makes this extra special. I knew Obama as a senator. And this is my first election, so I’m just so excited to see my candidate win.”
Some residents’ election night hopes were not realized, but they remained calm and respectful as other students celebrated.
“I’m not happy about it, but it’s obviously not the end of the world and I will continue to speak my opinion and speak my ideals,” freshman Lucy Wynn said.
Although only six students were in the lounge, the crowd swelled to 27 during the final results.
The students named same-sex marriage, the war in Afghanistan and education as the issues that determined their votes.
“Anything that benefits education on any level, I voted for,” freshman Jacob Scholl said.
Regardless of party alliances, all the students supported same-sex marriage. During a lengthy discussion the students relayed their hopes for the future.
“It’s something we can fix now,” freshman Taylor Melton said. “Other issues might take years, but this is something we can do now.”
Members of the group was confident that homosexual couples will be able to marry in the next decade. They cheered when it was announced that Maine legalized same-sex marriage via referendum.
“I think marriage equality is going to be the norm,” freshman Marlee Ribnick said. “Your gender and sexual orientation should not determine your rights.”
Other students did not support either of the two major candidates. Freshman Tolen Oliver voted Libertarian in hopes his candidate, Gary Johnson, would gain the five percent national vote required to gain governmental funding.
“I voted for Johnson because he’s fiscally conservative and socially liberal," Tolen said. "I couldn’t vote for Obama or Romney. I think having less taxes and less spending is best.”
Freshman Austin Zima did not support a traditional candidate either. He stated he was apathetic about who won the election and does not believe either candidate would have the opportunity to make a definite change.
“I just want to make this clear — nothing’s changed,” Zima said. “The Congress (is) still split.”
The sixth floor of Hatch also discussed Missouri politics, although the group mostly focused on the race for U.S. Senate between Rep. Todd Akin, R., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D. Talk of Akin’s “legitimate rape” comment was the dominant topic.
According to attendees, this comment ruined his chances in the race.
“I’m sure we all knew Akin was going to lose coming in,” Melton said.
Not all conversation was serious, however. As the hours wore on and the race got tighter, the students began discussing possible ways to break a tie.
The favorite idea of the group was a hand-to-hand combat showdown reminiscent of the Hunger Games. Though they conceded a fight between Obama and Romney would be close, they decided another past candidate would be a sure winner.
“If it descends to a Hunger Games battle royal, there’s no doubt Ron Paul would win,” Zima said.
Above all, the group demonstrated great pride in its democracy and the right to vote. When Obama referenced first-time voters in his victory speech the group cheered louder than it had for any one candidate.
At no point during the terse night did a disrespectful or angry argument occur. While people of many different political views discussed contentious issues, all participants remained civil.
In his victory speech, Obama said, “We are not as divided as our politics suggest. We are not as cynical as our pundits believe.”