Alumni host debate watch parties across the world

Posted by Student Worker in News Archive 25 Oct 2012

Though an estimated 10,000 people turned out for the Debate Festival at Centre on 10.11.12, not everyone who wanted to watch the Vice Presidential Debate could make it to campus. As a result, alumni across the country got together in droves for debate watch parties, which turned out to be a great success.

“We had 35 watch parties scheduled. Thirty-three were in the United States, and we also had one in Macedonia and one in Merida, Mexico,” says Colleen Courtwright, associate director of alumni affairs. “Ryan Stoner ’00 works at the U.S. Embassy and his wife Katherine Adams Stoner ’01 are located there. They had about 20 people attend their gathering—granted it was held the following day due to the timing of the debate. The location in Mexico was a gathering of the students studying abroad there.”

More than 400 people participated in the debate watch parties, which allowed alumni to come together in support of the College.

“These parties are important to the Centre community because they offer a chance for alumni all over the country to be a part of something happening locally. While it would be great for all of our alumni to come to Danville for the festival, that’s just not possible,” Courtwright says. “This gives our alumni a chance to gather and share stories with fellow alumni and celebrate Centre being in the international spotlight. It also fosters a sense of community among alumni living in the same area who may not have otherwise known each other.”

Bren Landon ’01 hosted a debate watch party in Washington, D.C., which drew more than 35 people.

“As with so many alumni, I’m sure, I was very excited that Centre was hosting the VP debate again,” Landon says. “Of all the places across the country, I thought it was especially important that those of us alumni in the nation’s capitol had the opportunity to celebrate and enjoy the debate together. I thought it was very successful!”

Landon was particularly excited about the debate thanks to her experiences as a senior at Centre during the 2000 Vice Presidential Debate.

“I was interning in the Communications Office, so I was very lucky to get to be right in the middle of a lot of the planning. I worked in the Media Hall and had the opportunity to work in Newlin during the debate,” Landon says. “Because I was in the middle of all the craziness on campus during the first debate, I wanted to be as much a part of this second debate as I could from far away.”

Landon and the rest of the alumni at the Washington, D.C., watch party were able to “brag about” Centre to others in the restaurant also watching the debate.

“I made a conscious decision from the beginning to host the party at a public space in hopes that we might get to share some Centre-love with non-alumni. I think we were very successful on a couple levels—both in providing a fun alumni gathering and also doing our small part to spread the good word of Centre College to the D.C. community,” Landon says. “They definitely wanted some of our Centre swag, and I said they could have some only if they spread the word about how cool the school was!”

The debate watch parties not only brought alumni together but also brought out their Centre pride. Reggie Mudd ’75 hosted a watch party in Gallatin, Tenn., that provided a notable example.

“We had a great time at the Debate Party. The crowd was not large but the quality was over the top with good representation from both sides of the aisle,” Mudd says. “The highlight of the night was Dr. John King Thompson ’66 showing up in his Centre letter jacket, which he said he had not worn in some 46 years. As a side note he said he hadn’t been back to Centre since graduation but obviously has his fiftieth coming up in a few years. He said, based on his experiences at the gathering, he wouldn’t wait until then to go back. I think that’s the real reason you have these events.”

“To stick to a phrase that I’ve used ever since learning it in my Beau Weston sociology class, the best part of the watch party was the ‘collective effervescence’ of us all being together on that special night,” Landon agrees. “It was so wonderful to be able to share that evening’s experience—and our pride and excitement—with others who we might not have known while we were in college, but who all have the shared experience of attending Centre. A huge roar from our room erupted when they introduced the debate being hosted at Centre College. One alum jokingly said, ‘That’s the most important thing I wanted to hear tonight.’”

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