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College Democrats and Republicans hold debate

photo courtesy of Flickr

Simren Shah

Associate Features Editor

The College Democrats and College Republicans at MU hold a debate each semester.

This semester’s debate took place Monday evening in the Ford Atrium in McComsey Hall. 

President of SGA, John Tintera said, “The purpose of the debate is to promote civic engagement…”

Three debate teams participated in the event. Each team consisted of two members from each party. The debate was conducted professionally, and students dressed the part. 

The first topic up for debate was gun control. The Republicans argued in defense of second amendment rights and less government control while the democrats argued for more regulations and disallowing the civilian ownership of assault rifles. 

While the parties disagreed in general, they both agreed that teachers should be allowed to have guns in schools. However, the democrats suggested adding more security guards would be effective, whereas the republicans argued that arming more teachers would be more effective because teachers would protect their classrooms in a crisis situation. 

The republicans said, teachers would defend their classrooms to “protect students,” or “for reasons of self-preservation,” however, the Democrats said that “arming teachers is a short-term solution.”

The parties did not find much common ground when asked the question of whether federal reciprocity should be honored. Republicans argued for reciprocity, while democrats argued against it.

“…this policy disregards state rights,” said a member of the Democrat debate team.

The Republicans argued that without reciprocity, gun owners are at risk of getting felony charges just for crossing state lines with a gun in their vehicle even if they have a permit in the state in which they reside.

Audience questions for the debate teams began with how the Republicans proposed they would prevent students from getting ahold of weapons if teachers were armed. The Republicans said, “weapon retention [training] and conceal to carry.”

The Democrats said teachers should have their permits to carry honored on campuses, however, guns should be kept in a safe.

The second debate topic was immigration. Two different teams stepped up to the debate table to discuss immigration policies.

One of the subtopics in the debate was whether sanctuary cities are beneficial for the U.S. The Democrat team said, “[sanctuary cities] prevent prosecution despite immigration law.”

The Republicans said that refugees are responsible for crimes and are detrimental to both the U.S. and the home countries of refugees. “We take away the best that they have to offer,” said the Republican team.

“[Refugees are] just going to get killed or have no place to go… we should take them in,” said the Democrat team.

The Republican team said that the expenses of incarceration for undocumented immigrants and for refugees amount to more than a “one time $2,000 deportation fee.”

The Democrats proposed that immigration policy should be changed. They said the government should “shorten the time-frame,” “lessen the cost,” and “make it more open.”

The Republicans agreed that the time-frame should be shortened, however, they wanted to close off the “loopholes.”

As for dreamers, the Republicans said they should undergo a “citizen-ship test” upon turning eighteen.” The Democrats said dreamers should stay if they were legal under DACA.

The final debate topic was abortion. Two young women from each party debated this topic. 

The Democrat team said, “a woman has the right to do what is best for her.”

In the Republicans’ rebuttal they said they agreed that women should have the right to choose, however, they said that those choices should consist of “adoption,” “abstinence,” and “birth control.”

“[Fetuses are] not a potential human life, but a human life just the same…As the great childrens’ author Dr. Seuss once famously penned, ‘a person is a person, no matter how small,’” said the Republicans.

The Democrat party members said that fetuses are “unconscious,” and therefore, “not capable [to make choices].”

They talked about issues in the foster care system, but the Republicans rebutted that the issue of foster care is a “different debate.”

The Republicans were for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, whereas, the Democrats were for funding the clinics. 

Both parties reached some common ground at the end of the debate when they were asked if the father should play a role in a woman’s decisions when she finds out she is pregnant.

The Republicans said that the father should be involved, but he should not have the final say. It is a “conversation that needs to happen,” said the Republicans.

“At the end of the day, it’s her choice, her body,” said the Democrats.

At the conclusion of the debate, participants from both parties were willing to comment on how they felt the debate went and whether it was a valuable experience.

“I decided to debate because I believe that the topics are very important and that they need to be discussed in a free and open dialogue,” said a member of the College Republicans who participated in both the immigration and abortion debates.

A member of the College Democrats who participated in the abortion debate said, “I think it is very important as college students since we can vote, to be informed about what is going on in the world and the issues that are very pertinent right now.”

“Overall, I think the debate went well. We all seemed to get along well enough and I think that we did very good,” said a member of the College Democrats who participated in the gun control debate.