Students go head-to-head in debate on college issues

By James Shepherd

 

The College Republicans and Democrats debated controversial issues in the Bart Luedeke Center theater on Oct. 27.
The College Republicans and Democrats debated controversial issues in the Bart Luedeke Center theater on Oct. 27.

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College Republican and Democrat members. From left to right: Alex Solomon, Joshua Aminov, Matthew Laurinavicius, Michael Lucido, Samantha Bender, Brendan Hanson, Lilly Miller, John Driscoll, Ruth Del Pino and Alexis Bailey.
College Republican and Democrat members. From left to right: Brendan Hanson, Joshua Aminov, Matthew Laurinavicius, Michael Lucido, Samantha Bender, Alex Solomon, Lilly Miller, John Driscoll, Ruth Del Pino and Alexis Bailey.

exual assault and college business models were some of the topics debated when the College Republicans and College Democrats came together on Oct. 27 in the Bart Luedeke Center theater.

The event, advertised as “The Great Debate,” was framed as an “educational experience that explores both party platforms,” by President of the Rider College Democrats, Ruth Del Pino.

Each team included five students. On the side of the College Democrats were senior political science major Del Pino; senior history major Matthew Laurinavicius; junior political science major Samantha Bender; junior political science major Lilly Miller; and junior political science major Brendan Hanson.

The College Republicans were led by sophomore marketing major Alex Solomon; sophomore finance major John Driscoll; freshman history major Michael Lucido; freshman political science major Alexis Bailey; and freshman accounting major Joshua Aminov.

The debate was split into two portions. The first was a discussion where questions were posed by the moderators. The moderators were Dr. Olivia Newman, assistant professor, political science; Howard Joffe, adjunct associate professor, communication and journalism; and Lt. Col. Brian Price, the director of the combatting terrorism center at the U.S. military academy at West Point. The second portion was comprised of questions from student organizations on campus.

The two parties agreed during the first question of the evening that one of the main issues the university is facing is a lack of diversity among staff; however, Solomon took things one step further.

“A very marginalized issue on campuses that isn’t talked about enough and that should be brought up more is the lack of diversity among professors,” Solomon said. “The same thing as our colleagues said, but in a way of academic opinion, the professors on college campuses are largely very liberal. And the amount of conservatives in academia is declining for a number of reasons, and this is one issue that needs to be addressed.”

This spurred on a short discussion about ‘liberal bias’ on college campuses, but soon this turned to the second main question of the evening: sexual assault.

Solomon started the discussion by saying, “We need to combat this [rape culture] case by case. We can’t generalize rape culture on campuses; we can’t generalize this because I think that we need to let the legal system work.”

However, Laurinavicius had a retort.

“Colleges and universities have an obligation to their students to provide safe spaces if such an incident does occur, which it does. It’s happened here at Rider University beyond what people have stepped up and talked about,” he said. “Universities need to not condone this action implicitly by essentially treating sexual assault survivors like the criminals themselves.”

While the Democratic party’s platform openly discussed and had a stance on sexual assault, the College Republicans revealed that their party’s platform had no official stance or address toward sexual assault.

The final moderated question of the night revolved around universities taking on more of a business model instead of an educational one, as well as whether a university should cut majors and programs.

The Democratic party referred back to the major cuts that occurred last year.

“A corporate model is not the way to go, I believe that an education is more important than a degree,” Laurinavicius said. “But I would also argue that with that education we need to understand where we can cut back and where we can provide resources to the programs that have been cut.”

The Republicans were opposed and freshman Alexis Bailey stated, “We have to let the free market decide what majors we’re going to have. So, if there’s only a couple of students that want to be in a certain major, it’s not logical to waste money on hiring professors and getting professors to teach for a major that only has a handful of students in it.”

Although the discussion and debate between the College Republicans and College Democrats ended last night, the real continuing discussion is still going on, and at the end of the debate Del Pino urged everyone in attendance to go out and vote on Nov. 8, no matter whom they vote for.

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