Members of the political groups shared their views on a variety of issues Tuesday night.
For the first time since the 2008 presidential election season, members of the Temple College Democrats and the Temple University College Republicans squared off in a debate regarding various national and state issues, last night at the Student Center.
Five members from each organization started off the event by discussing five prepared topics including health care, the economy, the Pennsylvania voter identification law, natural gas extraction and energy.
While the groups didn’t agree on much during the debate, a major point of contention came when the members discussed the recent voter identification bill that was signed into law in Pennsylvania on March 14 and would be implemented for the November presidential election.
The law, which requires voters to bring proper photo identification to their respective polling place in order to cast a ballot, garnered support from the republican side of the stage for its role in combating voter fraud.
“One of the largest reasons that the Temple [University] College Republicans support this bill is due to the fact that it helps to prevent election fraud,” Joe Oleksak, sophomore political science major, said. “Election fraud is a very rampant, yet very preventable problem, particularly here in [Pennsylvania].”
Dylan Morpurgo, membership director for TCD, argued against the law and said legislation disenfranchises students.
“Our Owl Card is not acceptable photo identification to vote. The requirements are not only a photo and a name, but also an expiration date,” Morpurgo, a sophomore political science major, said. “Of the four state-related [universities], only the University of Pittsburgh has [an expiration date], Temple does not. When you go to vote, you can not use your Owl Card.”
Morpurgo added that TCD is in contact with Temple to try and have expiration dates put on the Owl Cards.
While Morpurgo said the law disenfranchised student voters, Oleksak offered a different interpretation of the legislation and said that universities are an exception to the law and would not need to have expiration dates on their identification cards.
After the debate, some audience members said that they enjoyed hearing the opposing viewpoints from both sides.
“I’m a [political] science major and a lot of my professors are more liberal, so it’s nice to kind of hear both sides of an argument,” Alicia Kuhns, junior political science major, said. “Whereas, in class I normally feel like I’m hearing one side of an argument.”
“I thought the discussion was very well informed and very constructed. The two sides did a good job of trying to stick to the issues as they understood them, but also interpreting their policy issues as well, which is what you’d expect in a healthy debate,” Robin Kolodny, political science professor and moderator of the debate, added.
Members of the organizations also said that they would consider trying to hold the debates on a more regular basis.
“I definitely think it’s a good thing for both groups,” Erik Jacobs, president of TUCR and junior political science major, said. “I’d like to have [a debate] every semester if it’s plausible.”
Although the debate received rave reviews from most in the audience, some did not enjoy the perceived tension between the groups.
“The only problem I have with debates is that they just brew animosity,” Annie Nardolilli, sophomore anthropology major, said. “We’re all Americans we’re facing the same problems. We have different ideas about how to solve them, but that doesn’t mean that we attack each other.”
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.