Newton 214 became an arena for political debate on Tuesday as eight students, four from the College Democrats and four from the College Republicans, came together to discuss key issues of the presidential elections.
Both sides managed what one moderator called, "an easy back-and-forth discussion," in the event sponsored by Geneseo Democracy Matters. Although the topics were treated seriously and thoughtfully, the event's primary objective was to bring political awareness to the forefront of the campus community.
Approximately 30-40 students attended the event, which got under way with the issue of National Security Administration wiretapping for domestic security.
"It's important to remember that things like this have already been in place," pointed out junior Dan Caves, a Republican, though his side conceded that the Bush administration should not have circumvented the legality of attaining a warrant.
"The major difference is that they are now being employed to the aim of capturing terrorists," he said.
Democrat Nick Kaasik, a freshman, responded by saying, "[Privacy] is a vital, fundamental civil liberty that cannot be infringed."
Foreign national security turned the panel's attention to the war in Iraq.
"It's been the Republican position to get out of wars, not to get into them, traditionally," said junior Ryan McKenna. "I'm disappointed, but I remain a Republican because I believe we can change."
Democrats on the panel agreed that the United States should never have gone into Iraq, but has the responsibility to stay.
"The most effective way to fight terrorism is to fight some of the root causes of terrorism, which include poverty, injustice and inequality," Kaasik said.
Republicans and Democrats on the panel agreed that the economy is heading toward a recession, but differed in proposed solutions. Democrats seemed to concur that sending money to the middle class would stimulate growth, but Republicans were hesitant. McKenna argued that it is too late for Washington to be getting in the way of the economy.
On the environment and global warming, both sides recognized an imperative to seek alternative energy sources.
Republican Max Duhe, a junior, argued that oil is at the mercy of capitalism, and that it is only a matter of time before a more profitable solution emerges.
According to Democrat William Labate, a freshman, "This will only happen if we have the political will to lift ourselves from Big Oil."
The topic of health care closed the debate. Democrat Whitney Marris, a sophomore, was passionate about the issue.
"Eventual universal coverage is the best solution, but we first have to refine society and prepare the medical facilities," she said.
The Republicans argued that government regulations in the medical field have almost always proven ineffective.