Temple College Republicans and Temple College Democrats came together last Tuesday to spar over controversial political issues during their first formal debate. At the beginning of the year, Anna Walker, vice president of TCD, made it her personal goal to bring the two groups together to increase political awareness among the student body.
“My main goal is for this event to be educational,” Walker said. “Being a part of Temple’s debate team, I gained a sense of feeling inspired from hearing many sides.”
Ryan McCool, president of TCR, said the debate was made possible because of the willingness from both sides to work together and benefit the student body.
“Currently, many students probably know the Republican Party solely by the hundreds of anti-GOP flyers on campus,” McCool said. “The debate allowed us to prove that we are in fact a party of bright young minds with innovative ideas that students can relate to.”
Two audience members held up signs at the debate that read: “Impeach Bush and Cheney” and “Get out of Iraq.”
Students from each organization addressed
10 different debate topics, including health care, gun control, immigration and the troops in Iraq. Each side was allowed three minutes to present its arguments and one minute for rebuttals.
The topic that elicited the most heated reaction from both sides was terrorism – particularly a question that asked whether Afghanistan posed a greater threat than Iraq to the United States.
TCD argued that the Taliban in Afghanistan
were more threatening than the insurgency
in Iraq. In response, McCool asked, “Why not eliminate both threats, rather than just one?”
Brian McGovern, vice chairman of TCR, said TCD supported the war in Afghanistan because it would have been a speedier resolution than the current war in Iraq.
Deborah Hinchey, president of TCD, delivered a rebuttal speech, asking “How dare you accuse us of not caring about the war?” Following the passionate reaction from both groups, the moderator offered a short intermission.
Walker said she would have loved it if the debate had taken place last semester, but the tension may have been even more high-strung, she said.
“I know everyone was swamped with work because of the elections last semester,” Walker said. “People get so pumped for their candidates and working on their campaigns. Ryan is very understanding and knew where I was coming from. We wanted this event to go as cordially and smoothly as possible.”
Dr. Marcus Paroske, a political science professor and debate coach, mediated the event. He said he worked with both TCR and TCD to come up with discussion topics, but the groups organized the rest of the event together.
“I think this is important for two reasons,” Paroske said. “To overcome apathy in the student body by showing that other students care about issues. “Also, it is always good to get two sides in the same room.”
Paroske said that bringing both sides together makes it easier for students to see things more clearly. “It is something that the presidential debates don’t do enough,” Paroske said. “These students are great examples of people that care.”
Megan Kelsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.