Student groups debate abortion

College Republicans and College Democrats hosted a debate over the issue of abortion last Friday, March 25.

College Republicans were represented by Kyle Farrell, Abby Kranz and Layne Nichols, while College Democrats were represented by Ella Schnake, Alicia Stout and Kaitlyn Skeeters. Only one panelist in College Republicans had prior debate experience while two of the panelists in College Democrats were on their debate teams in high school. Stout is currently serving on the Truman debate team. 

The debate took place in Baldwin Hall room 114, with three panel members for each side and a professor serving as the moderator. Each side had the opportunity to give an opening statement, with several chances to give arguments against their opponent’s platform as well as a chance to refute what their opponents said. There was then a 10-minute period where each side could ask the other questions and cross examine them. Following the cross examination, each side gave their closing statements and then took audience questions. 

Both organizations were happy with the turnout, showing that abortion is an issue that students care about. The event was a follow up to a political expo last semester, where each political club was invited to state their views on certain political issues. After witnessing the big turnout and wishing for a chance to go back and forth on the issues, Farrell proposed the debate regarding abortion. 

After the debate, many audience members agreed that while it was unlikely to change anyone’s minds, it was still an important discussion to have. Alexa Kolesiak stated that people’s minds were likely already made up before they watched the debate and they had a clear preference towards which side they support. Despite this, she argued, it is a good debate to have as it is such an important issue. 

Warren Barge agreed and said, “I don’t necessarily think this changed a whole lot of minds, but in some situations, especially when we live in a democracy, it’s not necessarily about coming to different conclusions, it’s about having these constructive debates and allowing individuals to air their viewpoints, their perspectives, where they’re coming from, and I think that has some value within itself.” 

Aili Eggleston and Nicole Young disagreed that the debate was constructive, arguing that everyone came into the debate with their prior views and that the issue of abortion has already been discussed multiple times. They argued that most people likely came to see a fight between College Republicans and College Democrats. 

Despite this expectation, both sides expressed their pleasant surprise that the debate remained civil and did not devolve into personal attacks. Stout, reiterating a point she brought up during the debate said, “It felt more like a discussion than a debate. We were unable to change each other’s minds but remained civil; it just felt like we were two ships passing in the night.” Farrell and Nichols stated that they didn’t change their minds on the issue, but they hoped that the debate would at least cause some audience members to think critically about the issue of abortion. 

The students in College Democrats agreed, saying that they hoped the debate caused people to challenge their own views and use critical thinking. Both sides stated their desire to find common ground with the other, and the debate proved that both College Republicans and College Democrats are united in their desire to educate students and challenge them to think critically.