Rutgers Student Democrats, Republicans Face Off In Debate

This story was written by Pablo Albilal, Daily Targum
The top debaters of the RU Democrats and the Rutgers College Republicans lined up in front of an audience of around 130 people yesterday evening in the Multipurpose Room of the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus to discuss and debate important issues of foreign and domestic policy.

Issues included 12 questions asked by the moderator Theodora Stringham, the Legislative Affairs chair for the Livingston Campus Council and a Livingston College senior, on domestic issues such as higher education, taxes and deficit management, health care, global warming, gun control, immigration and social security. Debaters also discussed foreign policy issues such as those surrounding the Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and China.

Panelists were given a one and a half-minute response followed by a one-minute rebuttal and 30 seconds of closing remarks.

Republican debaters included the President, Kian Barry, a Rutgers College senior; Treasurer Ben Demarzo, a Rutgers College sophomore; and member Dan Whitney, a Rutgers College senior. Democrats included President Brett Tinder, a Livingston College junior; and members Monika Chopra, a Rutgers College sophomore; and Alisha Nichols, a School of Arts and Sciences student.

Stringham asked the first question on higher education.

"How do you propose helping to finance [students'] education through government programs or other forms of assistance?" he asked.

Tinder responded first.

"There are many ways to make college more affordable. Our universities are the envy of the world and that is not the problem. The problem is accessibility," he said. "We need to simplify financial aid and Democrats want to do away with the [Free Application for Federal Student Aid] because the government already has that information on our tax returns. We want to eliminate waste."

Barry said he feels there is a great amount of money wasted on education in this state, and simply throwing money at a problem will not solve it.

Debaters were also asked about their views on international issues, such as global warming.

"Global warming is not a United States problem. It must be addressed by the global community," Barry said.

Chopra noted that a solid approach to the issue would be to find alternative forms of fuel.

"America needs to take the lead, and we need to break the addiction to foreign oil. The example of sugarcane ethanol in Brazil is a wonderful solution to this addiction," she said.

Debaters were given the opportunity to elaborate on the causes and solutions to the issue of illegal immigration.

Nichols said the stringent nature of United States' immigration policy acts as a deterrent to citizens of other nations.

"Our immigration laws make it hard to enter the country, and that is why people feel the need to enter the country illegally," she said.

The climax of the debate was, expectedly, the war in Iraq.

"How would you foresee future U.S. involvement in Iraq?" Stringham asked.

The Democrats viewed the war as a waste of taxpayers' money.

"The Bush administration has squandered the surplus created by the Clinton administration. Money is being squandered in Iraq," Chopra said.

Demarzo disagreed.

"The surge is working, and our troops are winning this war. Democrats keep crying failure and will not recognize successes," he said.

Tinder offered his final remarks.

"At what point is the violence low enough to begin to withdraw from Iraq?" he asked. "I don't trust the current president to make that decision."

Stringham noted that the most important thing for students to do was vote, regardless of party affiliations.

"Before we are partisan, we are students,&quo; he said. "I would like to thank the LCC for supporting this debate. Vote in January."
© 2007 Daily Targum via U-WIRE
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