By Angelica Sisson
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for Students hosted The Great Student Debate on Thursday night in one of the Edward J. Pryzbyla Center Great Rooms. AEI for Students is the university partner and academic outreach of AEI, a policy think tank based in Washington D.C. This is the first semester Catholic University’s chapter of AEI for Students has been active.
The debate was co-sponsored with the College Republicans, College Democrats, and the Pre-Law Society. The goal of the event was to bring together students from different ideologies to have an exchange of ideas during the hotly contested electoral season.
Tom Lahey, a senior Politics Pre-Law and Philosophy major and also the chairman of AEI for Students at CUA said, “This sort of intellectual debate and presentation of political opinion is something lacking at CUA and we also want to encourage public speaking and the act of persuasion and rhetoric as well.”
The event consisted of six seperate debates on the following topics: the Syrian refugee crisis, government surveillance, education, the Affordable Care Act, welfare, and who should be the nominees for the election in November. For each topic there could be three speakers, one Republican, one Democrat, and one representing any third party.
The format of the debate was as follows: an opening statement from each side (it was determined by a coin toss who would go first), followed by cross-examination from the opposition, questions by the moderators, and finally, audience questions.
Both the Democratic and the Republican sides had strong representation and third party supporters came out for two of the six debates.
The most anticipated debate of the night was the last one, which had to do with whom the future Democratic and Republican nominees should be. Katie Hodgdon, a freshman Politics major, supported Bernie Sanders for the democratic nomination because she believes that his principles and stances best align with who she is. Giovanni Desir, a freshman Politics major, said John Kasich would be best for the Republicans as he has the most experience of all those running in the primary. Justin Barquet, a freshman Politics major, said he picked Donald Trump as his candidate because he has the best foreign policy. Barquet also predicted that Trump would be the nominee due to the fact that ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt, every Republican who has won the New Hampshire primary has gone on to win the nomination.
Sophomore Politics major Jon Weiss was pleased with the event and when asked what he thought about the diversity of Catholic University’s political scene. He said he thought Catholic University was rather politically diverse since, “being in the Capital everyone has some type of connection to politics.”
Lahey was extremely pleased with the event and said, “I thought it was a big success, we had a really good turnout and everyone debated really well.”
Looking to the future, AEI for Students at CUA has a networking event coming up at the end of the month and after spring break they will be having a Leadership Dinner and a national security panel discussion.