Both the College Republicans and Democrats had two representatives: Lauren Novorska and Will Lurz represented the Democrats, while Will Fleck and Sarah Sinert represented the Republicans. For each question, one representative from each side was given two minutes to respond. After their original statements, both teams could respond to each other until the moderators moved on to the next question.
The event’s organizers gave a variety of reasons for holding a political debate between these two organizations. According to debate team president Bradley Lott, one of those reasons was to foster productive political discussions in spite of the extreme polarization of American politics.
‘With how divided the country is, it’s good to come together with some positive discourse,” said Lott, a senior majoring in finance.
Iman Sami, fellow debate team board member and senior majoring in political science, explained that the organizations involved in the debates hope to educate students before the Midterm elections on Nov. 8.
“The goal of this debate is not competition but education, so people are aware about what each side actually believes,” said Sami. “We think we have a very apolitical, very apathetic campus, and we’re trying to get more discussion,”
Spectators of the intense and sometimes violent nature of contemporary political debate were felt in the warnings given by the moderators at the start of the event- yelling, swearing, and banging on tables meant immediate removal from the audience. Fortunately, none of that behavior occurred, and the audience was relatively quiet except for some light clapping.
About 20 minutes were allotted for each debate topic. Within each general subject, moderators asked three more specific questions to the participants. For instance, during the discussion surrounding immigration, debaters were asked to share their thoughts on the recent high-profile event in which Governor Ron DeSantis chartered a plane to transport a group of undocumented immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard using taxpayer money.
Although the debate included controversial topics including Martha’s Vineyard, the discourse that occurred between the two parties remained cordial. In some instances, they even agreed with each other, such as when both duos stated that increased education on environmental protection is the best way to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
“Many people want to help the environment, but do not know how to get involved,” said Novorska, who again represented UDems.
Audience members were pleasantly surprised at the respectful level of discussion.
“I thought it was a great way to show the rest of the student body that we all are, like, into politics and want to talk about it,” said Madeline Joyce, a UDems member and senior majoring in political science and international studies.
Joseph Zhang, a sophomore finance major and College Republicans member, even said that although the debate was positive and productive, he wished the moderators had asked questions about issues that affected Americans more universally such as the economy.
“In a lot of these topics, it involves higher-level politics and government. But really, the economy and how it’s performing now impacts each individual,” Zhang said.
Ultimately, the debate was held for the purpose of urging students to vote in the upcoming midterm elections regardless of political affiliation. For more information about the voting process and the candidates who are currently running, students can follow Get Out the Vote on a variety of social media platforms.