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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Debate turns focus on students

    Geoffrey Esposito of the Young Democrats expresses the Democratic partys view on Proposition 101 during a debate Tuesday in the SUMC.
    Geoffrey Esposito of the Young Democrats expresses the Democratic party’s view on Proposition 101 during a debate Tuesday in the SUMC.

    As the presidential election looms, ASUA and ASA are determined to educate as many people as possible and maintain that one of the most effective ways is for peers to educate each other. For the UA yesterday, that meant pitting student groups from campus political parties against each other in a debate focused on national and local issues.

    “”The debate yesterday was specific to the presidential candidates, whereas (Tuesday’s was) a wide range of topics,”” said Tommy Bruce, president of the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. “”This gives the students a different opportunity to learn, because they are listening to their peers.””

    The debate, sponsored by UAVotes2008, was unique in that it represented all four major political parties instead of just the Democratic and Republican parties.

    “”This is a debate, but more than that, it is a chance to educate students,”” said John Quinn, an intern for the Arizona Students Association. “”We wanted to include the Green and Libertarian (parties) because when we registered students, many registered as independent, but identify with the more minor tickets.””

    The debate was separated into three different sections and then broken down within each topic. First, three state propositions were addressed by each representative. Afterward, three national issues were addressed, and three presidential issues were explored last.

    Among the state-related issues, Proposition 102 – which would amend the Arizona Constitution such that only a union of a man and a woman would be recognized as marriage by the state – was discussed. With the exception of the Republican representatives, the Democrats, Libertarians, and Green party representatives all agreed that a “”No”” vote on this proposition is necessary.

    “”This is a religiously-motivated proposition. This is simply reinforcing a law that already exists,”” said Young Libertarian President Rachel Johnston. “”The government should not regulate marriage. It should be a religious institution, and the benefits that married couples receive should be distributed in another manner.””

    Debaters also addressed such issues as the accessibility and affordability of higher education.

    “”We have a legislature that refuses to fund state schools. (The Arizona) Constitution states that higher education should be as free as possible,”” said Young Democrats Director of Campus Affairs Geoff Esposito. “”This is obviously not happening. Barack Obama has instituted a bill that gives a free four-year education at a public university for two years of military service.””

    During the presidential issues section of the debate, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struck the loudest chord with the representatives.

    “”John McCain has the experience and judgment to keep the U.S. as a world leader,”” said College Republican President Ry Ellison. “”He has already said that he would lose a political campaign before he lost a war. Obama and Biden have been ready for a long time to wave the white flag of surrender.””

    This was quickly refuted by the Libertarians, who noted that their candidate, former congressman Bob Barr, also knows the hardships of war and was a member of the Central Intelligence Agency for seven years.

    “”This is a historic election for the United States,”” said Campus Green member Brian Hennigan. “”McCain and Nader are the only candidates stepping forward. They believe in saying ‘no’ to non-sustainable energy policies.””

    Although the debate on Monday featured representatives from the two major parties, students felt that Tuesday’s debate was more relevant to them, because they were able to hear the opinions of their peers.

    “”The student debate allows students to get involved with the political process,”” said Trevor Martin, a Republican-affiliated civil engineering freshman. “”The issues reflect personal opinions, and it gives us a chance to see which students look to better, not just themselves, but also the country as a whole.””

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