Political Science Society Holds Debate Between College Democrats and College Republicans
On February 13, the College Democrats and College Republicans participated in a debate hosted by the J. Dunner Political Science Society on the Wilf Campus. The debate, which was sponsored by The Commentator and The Observer, was moderated by Political Science Professor Maria Zaitseva and was attended by approximately 100 people. A number of students also viewed the debate on a video livestream of the event on The Commentator’s Facebook page.
The event was structured with four topics, eight debaters, and five minutes of speaking with opportunities for rebuttal. Avi Strauss and Adina Gernauer began the evening debating the issue of climate change, on behalf of the College Republicans (CR) and College Democrats (CD), respectively. Elliot Fuchs (CR) then contended with Moshe Gelberman (CD) over healthcare, after which Phillip Dolitsky (CR) and Doniel Weinreich (CD) debated the boundaries of religious freedom. Nolan Edmonson (CR) and Molly Meisels (CD) ended the debate by discussing nationalism and patriotism in America.
The presidents of both the College Democrats and College Republicans were both satisfied with the large turnout and apparent interest of the student body in genuine political discussion. SCW Junior Alyssa Wruble, President of the College Republicans, noted that “the debate proved that YU students are willing to spend their free time listening, learning, and debating real-world issues.” President of the College Democrats Matthew Haller, a YC Junior, echoed Wruble’s sentiment, noting, “I was impressed with the massive turnout, which confirms my suspicions that the student body here wants an outlet for political engagement.”
Eli Werner, a Junior in Yeshiva College majoring in Political Science, felt the debaters came well-prepared and expressed compelling arguments. “I wasn’t sure what to expect coming in, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.” Sy Syms Sophomore Shua Scharf agreed with Eli’s sentiment. “As a republican, it’s good to hear the other sides opinion without bashing and ridiculing each other. I came in with an open mind and I had not thought of many things they brought up.”
The event was the third of its kind in past five years, and has now occurred for two consecutive years. Stern Senior Neta Chizhik, the President of the J. Dunner Political Science Society, explained that the debate was similar to last year’s, but with a few key changes. This year, debaters were offered an additional opportunity for rebuttal to foster more “back and forth,” and a professor moderated instead of student.
Chizhik believes that these events “encourage students to reach out to one another and consider differing and contending issues- even if this involves stepping out of their comfort zones to consider another approach or perspective.” She also described the difficulty of getting people to meaningfully engage with issues. “This is part of a larger, national issue, that's being discussed ad nauseam- which makes it all the more frustrating: we are all speaking over each other rather than learning how to listen and process anything beyond our own echo chamber.”