Students find common ground in Great Debate

By Remi Lourenco
Correspondent

Inside the confines of a small Social Sciences classroom, a symposium of different political views created a distinctively intellectual, but also open-minded atmosphere on Wednesday, April 11.

College Republicans hosted the debate to bring together some of the College’s political groups, including College Democrats, Students For Life and the Student Liberty Front. The organizations were given topics surrounding religion, security, health, environmentalism and business. Each group was given two minutes to discuss questions with their organization and assemble talking points for the debate. In many arenas, debaters were able not only to listen to each side, but found that they agreed on certain common grounds.

Political groups at the College came together for a debate on hot topics like healthcare and religion. (Colleen Duncan / Staff Photographer)

In issues of religion, for example, College Republicans generally held that people should be able to express their religion freely. Other organizations, such as the College Democrats and the Student Liberty Front agreed with this sentiment, however, with stipulations — the government cannot favor one at the expense of another. As a Student Liberty Front representative said, “Americans have the freedom of religion, but they also have freedom from religion.” Both organizations also agreed that such religious expressions should also not be state-sponsored.

Another area regarding national healthcare, however, was an issue of division.

A representative from College Republicans deemed national healthcare as unconstitutional. In response, a College Democrat representative explained the benefits of the current national healthcare system in place, especially the preventative aspect of the bill. In addition, he added that it is not an unconstitutional “takeover,” but rather a free market which allows people to choose the best insurance for themselves.

A representative from the Student Liberty Front argued, however, that any market that forces the consumer to buy something is not “free.” A Students For Life debater reiterated this point by comparing a mandated national healthcare to forcing people to buy more groceries than they need.

While there was dissent in several topics, there was one platform all the participants did agree on — the program was a success.

“It’s really great to have all the different views from campus come together to argue civilized personal thoughts,” said College Republican chair and junior accounting and political science double major Matt Hernberg. “I think everyone had a really good time.”

College Democrat representative and sophomore international studies major Gayatri Oruganti agreed. “This should be a weekly or bi-monthly thing,” he said.

An important lesson taken from the debate was the ability of all sides to listen and respond. All participants, in attending the event, exemplified their desire to hear other organizations’ points of view. The event was a political brain stretch for each party.

“There were certain things we could all agree on and we could find common ground on certain issues,” remarked junior international studies and political science double major Michael Griffith. “I think that’s important for the country as a whole,” he said. “Without common ground, how can we ever hope to move forward?”