UGA’s Great Debate

By Caitlyn Richtman

The University of Georgia’s Young Democrats and College Republicans faced off for the annual Great Debate on October 6.

This was the first year The Great Debate was held in Tate Grand Hall, and more than 300 students showed up for the pizza and politics put on by the Georgia Political Review in association with University Union and Georgia Debate Union.

“It’s really just a place for student’s voices because I think a lot of the voices you hear on television are the voices of older people,” said Shuchi Goyal, Editor-in-Chief of Georgia Political Review.  “This is a way to get out ‘what is the younger perspective on the party?’ because we have a lot of politically involved students and then we also have students who, like me, don’t always know what’s going on.”

The Great Debate is just one of many ways that GPR tries to get students on campus involved in the conversation about current politics.

Three members from each opposing student organization represented their clubs for the debate.

Two members of the Georgia Debate Union moderated the event with prepared questions on six categories: the U.S. economy, immigration reform, foreign policy in Syria, America’s role abroad, healthcare reform and local issues. The local issues included campus sexual assault and the Athens anti-discrimination ordinance.

Each side was give two minutes for opening statements and one minute to respond to each question given by the moderators.

The debaters were aligned with their party on the majority of the politics with the Young Democrats referring to Hillary Clinton’s plans often whereas the College Republicans emphasized the overall platform of their party instead of their presidential candidate.

The debaters were civil throughout the debate, with the exception of the Republicans arguing about Obama’s weakness and the Democrats arguing about Trump being problematic.

After the set questions were finished, the moderators moved on to twitter questions sent in by the audience. The questions ranged from third party importance to police brutality.

The audience was thoughtful and supportive throughout, but there was some heckling from the crowd when more controversial audience questions came up.

The most polarizing moment of the Great Debate was the Young Democrats’ closing statement which warned the audience of the horrors of a Trump presidency. The College Republicans took 30 seconds out of their two minutes to respond by saying they were offended and then ending by thanking the audience for coming.

Despite the major differences in politics exhibited at the debate, the point of getting UGA students informed was achieved.

“I think it is so unbelievably important for people to be informed- just the most important thing in the whole world,” said Ruth Pannill, a member of Young Democrats. “Being informed is understanding the issues beyond the buzzwords we always talk about like ‘Syria’, ‘immigrants’, [etc.] is so important. I think that gives people a greater understanding of how complex all these issues are and they’re not just yes or no- there are 10,000 strings attached.”

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