Dems and Republicans Debate the Issues

By JAMES D’AMATO ([email protected])

Although most people would consider the political season over, the issues are still burning hot at Allegheny College. Monday, the College Democrats and Republicans met in the Campus Center to host a debate. They covered three important, if not visible, topics facing the nation today: Afghanistan, Social Security and cClimate change.

At first the crowd was sparse. There were a few passionate political junkies lining up on Democratic and Republican sides, handing out stickers and trading thoughts about the event; but only the die-hard supporters really made a showing as the night began. Despite this, supporters seemed undaunted.

“There could have been more. Of course you’d always like more people to be out, caring about the issues,” said Chris Plano, ‘12. “But we got a decent turnout.”

For the early arrivals the debate wasn’t about who was watching it was about discussing the issues.

“I think it’s shaping up to be a rousing performance of wits and, you know, knowledge,” said Becky Schneider, ’10, one of the supporters standing on the sidelines.

The event was planned as a joint effort between the College Democrats and Republicans. With the excitement surrounding the recent election, it is easy to forget that democracy is still an involved process, and voting is not the only outlet for political participation. The debate was an effort to keep students thinking about the issues.

“No matter the year, election year or not, the issues are important and they need to be talked about,” said Richard Shafranek, ’10, a debater for the democrats on the topic of climate change. “Both sides need to be brought into the open.”

As the debate started, tension filled the room. Although you could still hear students talking in McKinley’s and the Grounds for Change café as they left the dining areas, they were pulled in by the debate. Even though it is not a presidential or even a mid-term election year, it didn’t take much more than a public discussion to get students thinking about politics again.

The debate was formatted so that three students on each side would discuss their individual issue. After each side had an opening statement and a rebuttal, the subject was opened up to the audience to ask questions.

The democrat who was supposed to be discussing social security was missing due to illness. It was decided that the debate would go on as planned and the College Republican’s opening statement on the issue would lead directly into audience questions.

After the debate, Shafranek expressed his desire for the opportunity to rebut.

“There was a strong stance on the Republican side, but I feel like audience participation made up for it,” said Erin Shipley, ’12, Shafranek’s team mate discussing Afghanistan. “What matters is these issues need to be discussed.”

After the debate was over, a much larger crowd dispersed than was initially gathered. The participants smiled, shook hands and excitedly began planning for next time.

“I think we’ll work with the format of the debate for next year,” said Brian Ahrens, ’12, a debater for the Republicans on climate change, “I think it takes a more back-and-forth direct rebuttal format to address some of these issues in depth.”

For those who attended the debates and were swayed by arguments on either side, the College Republicans meet once every other week on Thursdays and the Democrats meet every week on Wednesdays in room 303.