BY: KAYLA LASURE
The Political Science Club had its first student debate Tuesday night. Panels were made from students in the College Republicans and College Democrats groups to come together and discuss global and local issues.
The Political Science Club came up with the idea for the debate, and joined forces with the College Democrats and College Republicans.
“As a club we had discussed hosting different debates that would educate and inform the public about current events and party platforms,” said Megan Holloway, the Political Science Club vice president. “Our original plan was to host a debate at the time of the presidential election. However, we [Political science club] weren’t a RSO yet so we couldn’t, but as a club we felt that it would still be informative if both prominent parties discussed issues based upon their party platforms at this time.”
Each party organization is made up of a handful of members, and those that volunteered were chosen for the debate panels.
Neither party knew the questions prior to the debate, so they prepared what they could and used previous knowledge.
Panels were made up of three members: Aaron Rainey, Many Durr and William Chaudoin represented the College Democrats. For the College Republicans Hannah Smith, Samantha Roell and Katherine Hahn participated in the debate.
Both sides were asked questions and each answer was based on their specific party’s platform.
The parties were asked questions about their views on foreign policies. Some questions asked were about the increasing violence in Syria, North Korea’s nuclear testing, terrorism and Afghanistan.
The second half of the debate focused on domestic policy topics. The platforms and explanations of market regulations, social issues and civil liberties, the federal budget and tax plan, health care reform and the energy crisis were all included in the debate.
Each party had a two-minute opening statement explaining their parties’ main platform. Afterward, the questioning portion began. For each question the parties had two minutes to give their answer, whether they were directed with the question or it was a rebuttal.
A three-minute open discussion would close out the topic by providing a mixed discourse among the parties.
The debate became heated during the healthcare reform topic discussion. The main tension of the discussion was between the Republican Katherine Hahn and the Democrat Mandy Durr.
“It is important for individuals to realize the impact of legislation on them, personally,” Hahn said. “As a Republican, our party thinks it is important to recognize health care as a business that shouldn’t be controlled by the federal government. Our party ideas differ in the broad concept of how much power should be given to the federal government. This issue, and our party’s response, stems from those discrepancies.”
Durr also agreed the health care portion created an intense discussion, but she had differing views to the topic.
“The health care portion of the debate could probably be described as a bit heated, which is understandable due to the politically divisive nature of this current national issue,” Durr said. “We just want people to understand that Obamacare will help Americans get the coverage and care they need without fear of arbitrarily low spending limits set by insurance companies, denial of life saving medical tests and massive debts incurred from emergency room visits.”
The debate ended with a 15-minute question and answer session for the audience; the audience could ask the panels questions about anything, and the panels would respond with either their personal or party beliefs.
Damir Siahkoohi, a 20-year-old political science and history double major from Irvine, attended the event as an audience member.
“I wanted to attend the debate because I thought it would be interesting to see the democratic and republican clubs debate each other in an organized civil manor,” Siahkoohi said. “It also helped that I received class credit from it.”
Siahkoohi’s question during the question-and-answer portion of the debate brought out many opinions and arguments from not only the two parties, but from other audience members as well.
“Why should we intervene with other countries affairs and help them build armies, when in America’s recent history, it seems, that whenever we interfere or help a side, we end up fighting them in 10 years,” Siahoohi said. “For example, this has happened with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Chile and Cuba.”
Overall, Siahkoohi was satisfied with the response to his question. He said he thoroughly enjoyed the debate and hopes there will be more to come.
“I feel that it went extremely well,” Holloway said. “The turnout was far better than I have seen it at any other political event that has been held on campus.”
Holloway also said they had planned on having debates annually, but the Political Science Club will be hosting other events to help keep people informed on political issues.