With Election Day just around the corner, students gathered Sept. 30 for the fourth annual debate between College Republicans and College Democrats.
This year’s debaters included senior Thomas Pedrotti and sophomore Jada Brown, president and vice president of College Democrats, and junior Treven Cade and sophomore Lauren Hassett, president and secretary of College Republicans. The event was moderated by political science professor and former governor of Ohio Bob Taft.
After opening statements from both sides, Hassett and Pedrotti took on the issue of immigration. Hassett began by arguing all immigrants should be vetted before crossing the border. She reasoned that it’s an important national security measure and can help reduce the amount of drug and human trafficking that occurs.
“We don’t want to encourage any illegal immigration by softening our laws,” she said.
Pedrotti agreed there is a crisis at the border but argued that it is a humanitarian crisis. He pointed to instances of asylum seekers being turned away and families being separated.
“The way to fix this is to create policies that would send more money to immigration courts so cases can be heard in a timely manner,” Pedrotti said. He also suggested increasing the number of work visas designated to immigrants.
The next topic of conversation was climate change.
“One reason climate change is such a big problem is due to our use of fossil fuels,” Brown said. “We need to invest more in finding alternatives to fossil fuels instead of putting money toward coal companies.”
Hassett agreed that climate change is a serious issue but supported a more gradual shift to renewable energy.
The debate then turned to the issue of gun violence. Brown began her remarks with a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Oregon District shooting. She then emphasized Democrats do not want to take away guns but would just like to see gun control laws like background checks and mental health screenings.
“On average, there is one mass shooting per day in this country,” Brown said. “This is not acceptable.”
Cade countered by saying gun violence and crime per capita is declining. He did agree that background checks would be a step in the right direction.
“We need a more sustainable and reliable system,” he said.
The last topic of the night was foreign policy, specifically the Iran Nuclear Deal. In 2018, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of this deal. Both College Democrats and College Republicans agreed this was not the best move for our country. Cade said there needs to be a better system of accountability with Iran to know it will honor its end of the deal. Pedrotti added the priorities for the U.S. right now should be keeping a nuclear bomb out of Iran and ensuring peace remains in the region.
The debate was then opened to questions from the audience, which included topics like clean energy policies and abortion. Other questions dealt with health care, gerrymandering and police brutality.
In their closing statements, both Democrats and Republicans emphasized the need to be civically engaged.
“If all we ever do is think about these problems, nothing is going to change,” Cade said. “We need action to back it up.”
Pedrotti added, “Action turns into policy changes across all levels of government. It’s important we make our voices heard.”
At the end of the debate, the audience voted on who they believed won the debate, and the College Democrats came out victorious.
Students left the debate with a better understanding of the issues facing our country today and an appreciation for civil dialogue.
“I went to the debate to hear both sides of the story,” said senior political science and history major Sam Penewit. “In an increasingly bipartisan environment, I wanted to see if students our age an intelligent conversation about issues could have facing our nation. You see a lot of discord in the news, so I was glad to see they could have a productive and civil conversation.”
Cover photo courtesy of UDayton Votes, which sponsored the debate.