College political group draws a crowd discussing the issues
University at Albany College Republicans and College Democrats squared up in front of an almost packed lecture center Friday for a formal debate between the two clubs.
Around 150 people filled up Lecture Center 19 on Friday night to view the debate forum.
The debate was split up into three sections, each covering a specific topic for the clubs to debate one another on. The three segments covered health care, immigration, and gun control.
Each club fielded three debaters per topic, and was moderated by Professor Tim Weaver of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.
Weaver is also the faculty advisor to the College Democrats.
“I was really impressed with the tone of the debate, the maturity, I think both sides did really well,” said Weaver after the debate, praising the skill and professionalism of the debaters.
Both sides were given two questions per debate topic. Each side would give their opening remarks, which were capped at a minute, and then would go into a back-and-forth styled debate over each question.
The question commencing the debate focused on health care public policy, asking if healthcare is a right and what the economic feasibility of free healthcare is.
Health care policy, a pressing issue in the United States’ political agenda, started the night off well.
The College Republicans went first, arguing that healthcare was not a right, and is more in fact a service.
While the Democrats argued that, since the United States is the largest industrialized country, the nation should be able to afford its citizens healthcare.
The crowd was quiet and respectful. They were quiet and respected both points of view; rarely clapping if a point was made, rarely laughing if a joke was made, and almost devoid of outcries save the moment where one student yelled out “Bullshit!” after a College Democrats debater claimed guns are more deadly in 2018 than when they were muskets.
This was quickly calmed down by the College Republican club President, Abraham Frangie.
The second debate topic pitted the president of both clubs against each other debating immigration.
The democrats opened this part of the debate with the famous inscription on the statue of Liberty which begins with “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” The democratic side argued that the United States should allow undocumented immigrants into the country as well as rights of American citizens.
While the College Republicans argued that Undocumented citizens shouldn’t get more rights such as K through 12 education and other social services that Americans pay for.
The president of the College Republicans said “The rights that they [undocumented immigrants] should have is the right to due process, and nothing more than due process; they should have the rights of compassion. We should be compassionate towards them.”
The immigration debate also covered topics such as the legality and the morality behind sanctuary cities.
After a back and forth, the two sides swapped out their debaters again for the final time to discuss gun control, the last topic.
The final debate brought up the Parkland shooting, bump stocks, the second amendment, and background checks.
While the Republicans argued that the current levels of gun control are sufficient, there was a moment of bipartisan agreement between the two clubs at the end of the debate.
The Democrats fielded three women, while the Republicans fielded two men and one women.
The night ended with both sides shaking hands and everyone leaving behind without animosity which has been seen in many political debates over the last couple of years.
“They made good arguments, they engaged with each other, they listened to each other,” Professor Weaver added. “I think there is a lot of hope for the future.”