Religion and politics may lead to unwelcome debates at family gatherings, but for the college Democrats and college Republicans, it’s business as usual.
The college Republicans and the college Democrats gathered in the Ott auditorium on Wednesday, March 21, to debate right to work, tax reform and healthcare.
Republican debaters at the event included Sean Hammond, biology senior; Kyle Harris, political science junior; and Lauren Delzeith, political science junior.
Joshua Roesner, public administration senior; Jacob Hilliker, political science senior; and Hailey Kimball, political science junior represented the college Democrats. The debate was moderated by political science instructor Eric Welsby.
Lucas VanAtta, political science senior, was at the debate. He said he thought both sides did a good job expressing their views.
“I was impressed with both sides of the arguments,” he said. “They had similar concerns on the same issues, but differing views on how to solve them.”
VanAtta was looking forward to the topic of tax reform because of its importance to the public.
“I was most interested in the topic of tax reform because these reforms have the most immediate impact on citizens,” he said.
SVSU alum and former college Republican Jess Averill was in attendance. Averill had assisted in planning the debate while a student.
“I was looking forward to the right to work just because in Michigan right now it’s so knowledgeable,” she said.
This debate was different from debates in the past. Averill recognized the differences right away.
“Last year we had actual legislators come in,” she said. “We had the questions come from the audience.”
The format of the debate was also different.
“This year it was a little bit different how we had several topics instead of question after question,” Averill said.
VanAtta said he likes political debates because of the opportunity for spectators to learn.
“These kinds of debates are very productive because they bring different viewpoints directly to the audience and they encourage different ways of thinking,” he said.
Although none of her opinions were altered due to the debate, Averill’s eyes were opened at some of what the debaters brought up.
“I know I heard some things that I hadn’t heard before,” she said. “Do any of my views change? No, but I do think that both sides did a commendable effort.”
Overall, VanAtta and Averill said they thought the debate was interesting and brought its own style.
“I enjoyed the debate and I felt like it broke from the usual rhetoric we are so used to hearing in the media,” VanAtta said. “It addressed issues that are relevant in not only national politics, but local politics as well.”
Averill said she liked how the debaters were able to do their duties while still maintaining a sociable and sometimes humorous perspective.
She said she was proud of how well the students handled themselves.
“They studied the issues great,” she said. “I think it’s one of the successes we have in the SVSU political science department that everybody can get close to each other regardless of their party and that you can work together, but then you can come to one of these things and argue with each other.”