Watch parties connect students on election night

Students and student organizations are still finding ways to meet whether in small groups or over Zoom on election night as opposed to traditional watch parties. Photo illustration by Chase (Junyan) Li | Photographer & Videographer

By Julia Pearl | Reporter

Despite the restrictions of COVID-19 and the polarization that this election has created, students are coming together to watch the result of this election be decided.

While watch parties are normally attended by more people than are currently allowed due to COVID-19 mitigation guidelines, students and student organizations are still finding ways to meet whether in small groups or over Zoom.

Pasadena senior Ayla Dodson-Hestand is the co-founder of the Texas Rising chapter at Baylor, a nonpartisan organization focused on social justice. Dodson-Hestand emphasized the value of having support while waiting for the election results to be announced.

“I think it’s going to make it a little easier. After you vote, it’s kind of like everything is out of your hands,” Dodson-Hestand said. “I think it can be a lot more stressful watching it [the results] come in especially when you are by yourself. I think it’s good to have a bunch of people around you that feel the same way.”

Dodson-Hestand said that to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, the chapter set up a Zoom meeting for students to join.

“We’re going to stream it. Then they’re going to have a Zoom link that they send out in that chat, so people can join in and do games on the side, breakout rooms or just kind of relax while everything is going on,” Dodson-Hestand said.

While Dodson-Hestand chose to connect with fellow students over Zoom, Little Rock, Ark., sophomore Ginger Gordon said she plans to watch with her roommates.

“It’s just all my roommates,” Gordon said. “We’re eating dinner and we have some special desserts made, and we’re all just going to be there together.”

While both Gordon and Dodson-Hestand plan to watch the election results come in with other people they have different opinions about when a winner will be declared.

“I am expecting that it might be pretty late into tonight, but I am expecting results by the end of today,” Gordon said. “I will be awake the entire time. I am very excited to see what happens.”

Dodson-Hestand said that she expects the results of the election to be delayed.

“I think that it’s going to be a closer race this time around,” Dodson-Hestand said. “I think unless there is a landslide in some kind of unexpected states, then it’s a lot more likely that we’re not going to see results until later on in the week.”

Young voters are showing up to polls at much higher rates than in 2016, and Gordon and Dodson-Hestand have shown that COVID-19 and political divisions can’t stop college students from uniting over politics, specifically on election night. Gordon said that while she is hoping for a different outcome than her roommates, she is excited to be able to watch with them.

“We are a house divided politically, so it’s going to be interesting,” Gordon said.