The College Democrats held an informational forum for students on Wednesday night at the Philips Autograph Library instead of a debate that was supposed to take place with the College Republicans of West Chester University. Members of the College Democrats remained tight-lipped about why the debate fell through although it was mentioned that it was with very short notice prior to the scheduled date. Sara Mendicino, president of the College Democrats, said that there were some disagreements between the two groups about advertising for the event and how much draw the debate would have among students.
“It was still a success,” Medicino said. “We plan on holding a debate next semester on more current issues.”
Laura Ness, parliamentarian of the Student Government Association and the College Democrats, who organized the event said that she was still pleased with the turnout despite the lack of a debate. Ness said that more than 50 people were in attendance.
Debate aside, the forum consisted of four student panelists who presented the Democratic Party’s view on different issues as well as some of their personal opinions. Each panelist walked the party line but also fielded questions from students who were in attendance.
The panelists provided liberal arguments on the issues of United States relations with Iran, immigration, same-sex marriage and the troop surge in Iraq. Andrew Gelston, a second-year student majoring in political science, began the forum with the topic of Iran.
“The Bush Administration has decided to put their foreign policy in front of our domestic needs,” Gelston said.
He said that the Democratic party believed that there should be no military interaction with Iran unless there was viable proof that Iran intended and had the ability to harm the United States. The definition of viable proof is hazy at best, however, after the weapons of mass destruction debacle in the invasion of Iraq.
Gelston was followed by Nikkie Schultz, a second-year political science major, who covered the topic of immigration and border control. Schultz asserted that the current border policy established by the Bush Administration was not decisive because of the difficulty of dealing with the 14 to 16 million immigrants currently in the United States.
Schultz called the immigration issue a coming second civil rights wave.
“It’s not the government that draws people here,” Schultz said. “We have Burger King, we have jeans. That brings people here.”
The issue of same-sex marriage was addressed by third-year student Nate Portner. Rather than defending Democratic views on the issue, Portner refuted the arguments of the political right. He called the logic of many conservative views on same-sex marriage a “slippery slope” and suggested that this thinking related same-sex marriage to polygamy and incest.
Last on the night’s agenda was Elizabeth Wilkinson, a fourth-year student, who spoke briefly on the economic implications of the troop surge in Iraq. Wilkinson referred to the purchase of bonds in Iraq as a way to finance the ongoing conflict and how the bonds were ultimately not selling.
“No one is investing in Iraq,” Wilkinson said. “Iraq is not profitable.”
Although the topics covered were one-sided without a rebuttal from the GOP, the forum brought national issues to attention for those in attendance. If all goes as planned, a debate will take place next semester between the College Democrats and Republicans.
Shane Madden is a fourth-year student majoring in history with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at SM590676@wcupa.edu.