MSU Student Housing Cooperative

The Michigan State University Student Housing Cooperative (MSU SHC) is a non-profit organization providing a low-cost housing option for students at MSU and surrounding schools. There are more than 200 members in 15 houses across the East Lansing area. Houses vary from five to 29 members, each with their own character and history. 

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Member Post: A Review on the Democratic Debate viewing party

By Josh Van Laan, Raft Hill

It’s my first time at Howland, or any co-op for that matter. I walk up to the door and the enlarged porch and wait for someone to let me in. 

I go into the viewing room which is connected to where the food is and find a spot alone in the back. Perfect. My tendencies of a writer take over and I’m able to find a spot where I can view and observe without interrupting. Not to mention I’m too sick to be social. Excellent. 

There’s probably about 25 people here, a good showing but with a house that holds 24 I’m not sure how many people are guests or not. As I said, this is my first time at another coop and being new to coops and MSU in general I haven’t had the chance to extend my network. By the look of things, I’m the only one, everyone is communicating with each other as if they’ve known one another for years, cracking jokes with one guy pointing at everyone and asking, “Coffee?”

We still have 20 minutes until the actual debate starts, though no one seems too interested in that. Someone screams out, “Where is String Cheese playing this weekend?” in what’s possibly the most coop thing I’ve ever heard. Suddenly the topic changes, some guy raises his beer, “Guys, can I make a quick plug for Bernie really quick?” Unanimously, everyone says yes. The man goes into a deep story of how he was an activist and his experience told him the Iraqi War was bullshit and how Bernie voted against it was a test for him that he passed. When finished it’s met with whooos and claps. It’s no surprise that everyone here is in favor of Bernie given that not only are we with college students but also at a coop, and Bernie is seen as the radical candidate.

With that, the pre-debate viewing starts. The countdown is well…counting down, 16:06 until debate time. More people trickle in and are welcomed with “Whaadddduppp!?!?!” “PHOENIX!!!” “BEALLL!!!!” Looks like there are quite a few people here from other houses after all. 

With 11:23 left the projector is finally unmuted and is met with cheers. Someone suggests how to turn on the subwoofer if need be, “In case you want to hear the thunder in Hillary’s voice.”A promotional video plays of Obama saying that we need to support the Democrat candidate regardless of who it is. A short break follows.  Someone thanks everyone for coming and saying it’s more people than they expected. Someone does a head count, roughly 35 people present.The debate starts.

Aaaaand it freezes as soon as Anderson Cooper does introductions. Awesome. “Party’s over everyone out,” someone jokes. It’s been about 3 minutes and people are trying different things but nothing is working. Everyone turns off their wifi, they try reconnecting the laptop the debate is showing off of, nothing. 

After about 5 minutes we get it going with a different computer. It has a weird blue tint but we’ll deal with it. All we’ve missed is the National Anthem. We fix the tint, but it freezes again. A speed test is done to test the connection, it’s fine, it’s just the CNN website being bogged down. We try to do xfinity go and then watch live tv through that, this could be it. Success, but a commercial. 

The debate is on, the lights are off, its game time.

Governor Lincoln Chafee starts his introduction and does a short hesitation met with awwwws.  He mentions how he hasn’t had any scandals, a clear shot at Hillary that is responded with oooooohhhhhhhs echoing throughout the house.Senator Jim Webb is goes into about how corrupt politics are today among other things. It’s quiet but no one really cares.  He’s not a great speaker, you can tell he’s nervous and not really that confident in himself. He looks like a bulldog but has none of the aggressiveness of one. I wonder how sweaty his pits are right now.Governor Martin O’Malley starts with his family and relates it to his political career. He reminds me of a pastor, talking about the dangers we face, almost as if warning about the oncoming apocalypse. He ends with how it’s all about the kids and a better future, how cliché.

Senator Bernie Sanders is up, and everyone peaks up. Sanders goes into economics and how corrupt finances are, it’s met with a few yeahs within the house, but I can’t help but notice he’s not exactly saying anything that the other candidates haven’t covered. If Bernie is anything, he’s pissed and determined. Talking about the environment it’s clear how much he takes this to heart. He finishes talking about how we need to stop with spending money on jails ad instead of education, the room erupts. He continues on with a closing statement summarizing again. More erupts.

Hillary Clinton is up. Immediately it’s apparent how much of a politician she is. Without a doubt she is the best speaker, both in voice and composure. She discusses her family, her political experience, climate change, and raising the minimum wage. She continues about how the tax system needs to be fixed so the wealthy pay more while the middle-class pay less and how she wants paid family leave, it’s met with a lukewarm reception.

First question is aimed at Clinton and her alleged flip flopping, ending with “Will you say anything to get elected.” Clinton responds by saying that she absorbs information and her position evolves with it. She then evolves her answer to a completely different story. Cooper isn’t having it though, and again asks her, “Are you a progressive or a moderate.” It’s refreshing to see a moderator play hardball. 

Cooper then asks Sanders how he gets elected as a Socialist given that 50% of Americans wouldn’t vote for one. Sanders goes on to define a Democratic Socialist as someone who is upset about the stuff he is upset about, tax breaks, wage difference, and medical leave pay. Cooper again plays hardball, saying this is about electability, not your stance. Sanders replies that Republicans win when there’s a low voter turnout, and he’s going to bring out the young people needed to win. It’s disappointing watching Bernie play the debate game when he prides himself as being different and not the typical politician, yet he dodges questions and uses them to simply push his agenda, whether or not if it’s related to the question, like everyone else.

More questions are asked, but truthfully I’m not going to repeat every question and every answer for the next few hours. Cooper asks Clinton, “Is Bernie Sanders too hard on guns?” To which Clinton responds, “No. Absolutely not.” Laughter echoes throughout the house.

More questions are asked about gun control to the other candidates. O’Malley has a great answer about his experiences with strengthening gun control when he was governor. One point to him.

Now we move on to the Russian bombings and Putin dealing with Syria.  And it freezes again. We have it on a small TV in the front of the room but I’m too far in the back to really pay attention. Someone is trying to get it going on the projector again, it’s back up again but freezes. We stick to the TV. I’m going to go home and watch the rest of this, there’s no way I can see the screen from my spot in the back.

I make it back to Raft alive and finish the debate with my homies who are watching it there.We all know how it went at this point. Everyone thinks Bernie won except the media, which people speculate is because they are donating to Clinton’s campaign and want her to win and that’s why the media is saying she won. Personally, I think she actually did win regardless of that but oh well. Regardless, for the two or so hours I was there, thank you for the good times Howland.