By Jarvis McCowin

What happens when an 8 x 11.5-inch piece of paper with “2016 Presidential Debate Viewing, Student Village Classroom, 9 p.m., popcorn provided” is posted on the entrance of the Student Village?

Short answer: You hear, “Oh, there’s popcorn!” A little longer of an answer: Around 8:45 p.m., residents begin trickling into the Student Village classroom to grab a good seat, fill a bowl with some popcorn and patiently wait for the CNN moderator to announce the presidential candidates.

In attendance were residents who were encouraged to view as an opportunity to earn extra credit. Others attended as they were interested in learning about the candidates’ views, while others were very familiar with this election season and knew who they were voting for. There were even some 17-year-old students in the room who, even though they will not be eligible to vote this election, were present as they know the importance of this election and the implications the result can have for our future.

When 9 p.m. arrived on Monday, September 26, 2016, the classroom was full and you could hear a pin drop. Residents were attentive and on the edge of their seats awaiting the responses of each presidential candidate. After the viewing, it was brought to my attention that residents were also viewing the debate in the lounges of the residence hall. Every lounge in the Student Village had the debate on. Remember: Monday night is also Monday Night Football and residents instead intentionally chose to view the debate.

As an educator, it was a beautiful thing to witness. As educators, may we continue providing spaces for students to engage in dialogue where they can reflect on their beliefs along with the beliefs and values of others.

As this learning happens, may we continue the spirit of education as a practice of freedom and a means to assisting students into becoming engaged citizens.

Jarvis McCowin is a Residence Director in the Student Village.