They came for extra credit, to complete an assignment and for the free pizza.
And during a 40 minute discussion led by Eugene Williams, general manager of KTWU public television, more than 100 Washburn University students who filled Mabee Library for the first DebateWatch 2012 event showed that they care.
Some said they are frustrated by the process. Sick of bipartisanship. Tired of cable news networks that deny bias. Some wanted to hear what the candidates had to say about student loans.
Others were committed to candidates not included in the debates, or not yet on the Kansas ballot.
A few even called out the role of the Electoral College.
"The president doesn't always reflect the vote. If you want to reform something reform the electoral college," said Elaine Januszka, a freshman business major from Kansas City, Kansas. She advocated not voting as a form of protest, which spurred discussion.
In an interview afterward the debate team member said she wanted to see what people would say. "I'm going to vote. It doesn't matter as much as if I lived in Florida or Ohio. But I'm hopeful. That's what can start movements, right? Hopefulness."
Mark Peterson, chair of the political science department, reminded the crowd of the 2000 election, when the Supreme Court stepped in. "There weren't riots when he was elected." In large part, Peterson said, that was the purpose of the Electoral College. "The Framers (of the Constitution) ... wanted to, to the degree possible, prevent civil unrest."
Mabee Library will host Debate Watch events for the three remaining debates, Oct. 11, 16 and 22.