Political debates spark student discussion


    By Joy Simmons

    Political opinions sparked debate Thurs., March 22, for BYU student republicans and democrats who discussed several touchy issues such as the Clinton scandal, abortion and drug trafficking.

    Democrats won the annual debate judged by the Political Honor Society. They judge each party on rhetoric, persuasion, content, argument and cross-examination skills.

    “We hold this as an opportunity for the two sides to come together and just discuss politics on campus,” said Aaron Hassell, 23, a BYU student from Arvada, Colo., majoring in political science. “It”s kind of a forum for people to ask questions and learn a little more about parties.”

    Hassell was one of the three judges. They decided the democrats were more persuasive and eloquent and presented the clearest arguments.

    “I think the outcome is very skewed,” said Brian Chapman, 22, a BYU student from Garden Grove, Calif. “It has nothing to do with my personal beliefs of whether we won or not.”

    Chapman is the State Vice Chairman of the College Republicans. He was one of the four BYU student republicans who participated in the debate.

    He said he felt like some of the statements made by the democrats and the reactions to those statements were very inappropriate. He said they didn”t facilitate good discussion.

    “If it was skewed I apologize, but there is nothing I can do about it,” said Andy Wilson, 23, a senior from San Diego Calif., majoring in political science.

    Wilson said they won the debate because their rhetoric, information and issues were better.

    “Frankly I was surprised that we won because BYU is a very conservative usually republican crowd,” Wilson said.

    He said the republicans won last year”s debate, so they went into this debate thinking they would not win.

    “We just wanted to come out and let people know about our issues,” Wilson said.

    Chapman said he wished the debate had been set up a little bit differently so it garnered fewer attacks.

    “I think at BYU it is very important to stay away from that kind of debate,” Chapman said. “It doesn”t bring in the goals of the university, which is to have a spirit-centered, a Christ centered education.”

    One issue both parties agreed upon was the importance of student participation in the upcoming caucuses.

    “I believe this is one of the most important things students can do this year is to influence how things happen politically in the state,” Wilson said.

    At the respective democratic and republican caucuses, students will have the opportunity to elect delegates to represent them at county and state conventions.

    “It gives students the right to be delegates, the right to choose at the grass roots political activation,” Chapman said.

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