College Democrats and Republicans Face Off in Pre-Election Debate

Political tension was in the air as members of the College Democrats and Republicans debated Wednesday before students and faculty in the Grandroom.

Rather then bring their personal beliefs to the forefront, members of each panel debated the issues as their party’s candidate for President of the United States would have.

Taking the podium for the College Republicans were David Chesley, Dusty Smith, Jimmy Webb, Holly Rhodarmer, and Ryan Wierzbicki. Tim Blekicki, Jamie Harris, Lex Davis, and Jermaine Perry debated on the side of the College Democrats.

Robert Blankenship, president of Pi Gamma Mu, the international honor society for social science, moderated the debate, which focused on issues such as affirmative action, environmental concerns, foreign policy, the economy, and health care.

“It’s really sad that we have such fiery and active groups on campus and they haven’t had a chance to debate, so I was really honored to moderate and participate in this debate,” said Blankenship.

Blankenship presented the issues in the form of questions to the debaters, who answered them as their candidate would have, sometimes invoking their candidate’s plan for a certain issue should he be elected.

While most of the debate was fairly calm, some issues, such as foreign policy and affirmative action, had the debaters going back and forth, rebutting each other’s statements.

During arguments about foreign policy, Ryan Wierzbicki of the College Republicans made a statement about women in the armed forces that surprised the crowd.

“Women should no longer be able to serve in ground units in the military, and co-ed training should not be allowed,” said Wierzbicki. “We must preserve the morale of the United States Army. It is at its lowest it has ever been, and this is one of the reasons.”

Lex Davis, of the College Democrats, countered his statement by affirming that focus should be put on foreign policy itself, not the makeup of the army.

“If women want to serve in the armed forces of the greatest country in the world, they should be able to do so,” said Davis.

David Chesley, chairman of the College Republicans, gave the closing statement for the party, saying “Mr. Gore, government is not the solution to our problems, it is the problem to our solutions.”

Jermaine Perry included in the closing statement for the College Democrats, “FDR said, ‘There is nothing to fear but fear itself.’ If I were you in America today, I would fear George Bush getting into office, because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

Chesley and Casey Rae Burgess, the president of the College Democrats, agreed that the purpose of the debate was to make students aware of each candidate’s stand on issues, and to help them decide who to vote for on Election Day.

Lex Davis further encouraged this purpose as part of his opening statement for the College Democrats.

“I’m challenging you tonight, as college students, the informed people of our country, to vote,” said Davis. “The reason that politicians don’t listen to college students is because we don’t vote, an if they’re not going to get our vote, they’re not going to campaign for us.”