Student Republicans, Democrats voice diverse political opinions at their most recent debate

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Levi Hilton, the BYU Republicans club president, and Emma Moore, the BYU Democrats club president, introduce this semester’s debate and topics for the evening. On the left are the Republican representatives and on the right are the Democratic representatives. (Alyse Clark)

The BYU Republicans and BYU Democrats met together on Nov. 9 for their once-a-semester live debate. The debate featured three speakers from each political club and discussed three hot-button topics.

Roughly 100 students, faculty and other interested individuals gathered in the Tanner Building to hear the live debate between the two main political clubs on campus. The speakers represented their personal researched opinions and experiences within the debate.

BYU students, faculty and other interested individuals gathered in the Tanner building for this semester’s live debate. The audience had the chance to submit questions through an online platform that the speakers would answer at the end of their topic debate. (Alyse Clark)

Levi Allen, the BYU Republican club president, and Emma Moore, the BYU Democrats club president, began by introducing the structure of the debate, the topics and the appointed speakers.

The three topics discussed were whether the federal or state government should use rent control as a means of providing affordable housing, whether the federal or state governments should enact a heartbeat abortion bill and if race should be a factor in admissions, such as with affirmative action.

The student moderators first gave a brief background on the political topic, then a coin flip ensued to determine which club began with their introduction.

Each speaker was given a few minutes to separately introduce their stance, debate their topic and then refute the other person’s claims. The last ten minutes or so of each topic involved a question-and-answer portion where audience members submitted a question and debaters had 30-second increments to respond.

“I’m really glad that students came out to something like this. I know it’s hard sometimes for students these days to hear opinions they don’t very much agree with … it’s really easy to stay in your echo chamber,” James Nelson, an audience member from Salem, said. “But a lot of these students probably came in open-minded and learned a lot about these topics.”

Tori Kimball was the Republican speaker for the affirmative action topic. She voiced her opinion against affirmative action during the debate. (Alyse Clark)

Nelson found the abortion debate the most “intellectually interesting” because of how intertwined the legality and morality of abortion is in discussion. When asked which debater he thought performed best, Nelson answered Tori Kimball, the Republican speaker for the affirmative action topic. He felt Kimball had the most “fireworks” and passion regarding her topic.

“My mother is an immigrant from Mexico. I have the blessing of being a first-generation college student in America,” BYU Republicans’ representative Tori Kimball said in her debate remarks against affirmative action. “I was also valedictorian of my high school, I was the captain of my basketball team, I participated in the Turning Point USA for four years. That is what should be going on my application. That is what should be considered in my essays … Skin color does not equal diverse experiences. To say that is to put every single person of every single race in one group”

Adrian Bautista, a BYU junior studying psychology, agreed with Nelson that the best debater was the Republican speaker for affirmative action. Bautista also felt that the last topic was most applicable to him.

“I think this is super healthy to help students view these points in a different perspective. I think being in a room with multiple perspectives is something that we should allow and we should have in the university … it’s important to have a safe space,” Bautista said.

Ella Paligo was the Democratic speaker chosen to argue the heartbeat bill. She addressed the crowd in response to an audience-submitted question. (Alyse Clark)

Leah Karren, a BYU junior studying interdisciplinary studies from Sacramento, California, shared she was most interested in the heartbeat bill debate. She felt the Democratic speaker for the heartbeat bill debate, Ella Paligo, was overall the best debater.

“I think that she had her facts straight. She understood that we were talking about policy, not morality, which I think is an important differentiation in these situations because no one wants to be attacked for their moral beliefs,” Karren said of Paligo.

The BYU Democrats and BYU Republicans concluded the event by thanking everyone in attendance and inviting them to their live debate next semester, where a brand new set of topics and speakers will be presented.

Each speaker was given a resounding applause after the closing remarks, and the audience flooded to the stage to interact with the appointed club members.

Students can follow the BYU Democrats and BYU Republicans Instagram pages to keep up with upcoming events and learn how to get involved.

A student moderator held up a hand throughout the debate to let the speakers know how many seconds left they had to answer a question. The BYU Republicans and BYU Democrats hold a live debate on campus once a semester. (Alyse Clark)
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