Student political groups debate national issues on campus stage

The Unified Students’ Assembly (USA) along with the Student Government Association (SGA) hosted and moderated a debate between the College Republicans and College Democrats clubs right before the presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 19.

With the presidential election around the corner, students wanted to voice their opinions on the candidates and their parties.

The USA “works to foster conversation, identity and intersectionality. It specifically exists to bring all viewpoints together to engage in a meaningful conversation,” said Zachariah Boyer, senior political science major and co-founder of USA.

The moderators were Boyer, The Setonian’s Asst. News Editor, Brianna Bernath, and Maggie Bach, assistant director of Leadership Development. They asked questions and covered such topics such as the economy, climate change, race relations, transgender rights, terrorism and immigration. They also pulled questions from the audience.

When speaking about terror and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), Anthony Antonini a junior diplomacy major who is a College Democrats representative and a member of ROTC, challenged the Republicans to fight alongside him in his coming commission in September 2017.

“I’ll tell you something. I am sick and tired of my friends coming home in body bags,” Antonini said.  “What you need to do is understand the fundamental issues about why these groups come about. You have to get inside their heads. What else do they have?” The crowd clapped hard to show support as he took his seat.

John Soper, sophomore political science major and College Republicans representative, said it was important for everyone to participate in the political process.

“People age 50 and over are the primary voters of this country,” said Soper. “If millennials vote in the same way that those people vote, politicians might pay more attention to the causes millennials care about.”

When asked what transgender rights would look like considering the reportedly 1.4 million Americans that identify as transgender, a freshman economics major and College Democrats representative Siddharth Bector, said his party was proud to stand with transgender individuals.

“We want bullying codes in schools that see federal money ,” Bector said.

On the subject of race relations, junior diplomacy major and College Democrats President Ajiya Doka said, “Our solution as a party would definitely be criminal justice reform that there needs to be a serious look at minimum sentencing use of private prisons as well as creating an economic system that works both for the African American community as well as everyone else.”

James White, College Democrats representative and senior history major, spoke about climate change.

“Coal is just obsolete and yes, that affects people’s lives, but that’s capitalism, I’m sorry,” White said.

When asked what his party’s plan was to combat terrorism in all forms both on American soil and abroad, Victor Vieira, sophomore diplomacy and modern languages major and College Republicans representative, spoke about strengthening the military.

“It’s essential that if our president draws a red line it’s important that we follow through and execute. In order to protect our nation, it’s essential that we structure our military to protect our borders and our national security,” Viera said.

To end the debate Edward Colombo, a senior political science and philosophy major who is president of the SHU College Republicans, thanked everyone for attending.

“Showing people 20 year olds can do this is important. Talking about these issues and what makes America great is substantive. Debate is the best way to solve these issues of American politics,” said Colombo. “Get to know them and get involved. Don’t just vote. Know how you feel about politics. Don’t base off your parents. Neither reflect the true values of either party.”

Alexandra Gale can be reached at


Author: Alexandra Gale

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