Longwood University Students Were The Real Winners Of The Debate

On Tuesday, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence faced off in the first and only vice presidential debate of this year's election. The debate took place at a relatively small university in rural Virginia, where the event was much more than just 90 minutes of interruptions and insults. In fact, Longwood University's students turned out to be the real vice presidential debate winners, rather than the candidates themselves.

Located in Farmville, Virginia, Longwood University is a public liberal arts school with under 5,000 undergraduate students. It's the third-oldest university in Virginia, originally founded in 1839 as a female seminary. The school doesn't have a long history with presidential debates; Tuesday marked the first time that a presidential or vice presidential debate took place there. It was an expensive undertaking and a big commitment for the university, which budgeted some $5.5 million for the event and worked for two years to earn the honor of hosting, according to The Washington Post.

But for all that time and effort, the debate didn't seem to take much of a toll on the students. Longwood students actually got a week off as a result of the debate. Beginning on Thursday, Longwood entered its fall break / debate week schedule, with university offices remaining open for faculty, staff, and students, but no classes being held.

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Some students took advantage of the break by leaving campus, while plenty remained in Farmville to soak in the hype. Students directed traffic in parking lots, manned the spin room, and otherwise participated in the debate. For its part, the university made the most of the day by packing it full of on-campus activities. There was a VP Jubilee, a festival of sorts, ahead of the event on Tuesday afternoon, and a trivia challenge in the evening.

While many students weren't present on campus for Tuesday's debate, there was a big elephant (and donkey) in the room to take their place. Much of the debate between Democrat Kaine and Republican Pence focused not on the vice presidency, but on the candidates at the top of their respective tickets. Kaine held his opponent accountable for Donald Trump's vicious insults, and Pence tried to steer the conversation toward Hillary Clinton's emails.

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Ultimately, Tuesday's debate was pretty close to a draw between the two veep candidates. They each pushed their respective campaign's message, and they each suffered a couple hits. The one clear winner was the Longwood student body, which either participated in the debate festivities firsthand or enjoyed a relaxing week off from classes.