Even though midterm elections are more than eight months away, members of the Ohio University College Republicans and the OU College Democrats gathered in Walter Hall on Thursday for a spring debate moderated by The New Political.
The debate was segmented into 3 parts — a moderator question round, a Twitter question round using the hashtag #RepsVsDems2018 and an audience question round.
The evening’s first question about the constitutionality OU’s “Freedom of Expression” policy elicited a bipartisan response. OU College Republicans President Ryan Evans said OU needs to be a campus “where everyone has an equal opportunity to say what they want.”
“I think this is actually an issue we agree with College Republicans on,” OU College Democrats President Ashley Fishwick said.
The discussion became more partisan as participants fielded questions on various hot-button issues including immigration, tax reform and renewable energy. Much of the debate centered around gun control and school security in wake of the Parkland High School shooting.
“I do not believe its a problem with guns, I believe it’s a problem with our culture,” OU College Republicans Political Director Cole Newhart said.
Fishwick said the U.S. should “model after other countries and enact common sense gun reform like Israel.”
During the debate’s final segment, an audience member asked what each party thought about safe spaces, trigger warnings and hate speech. OU College Republicans Communications Director Missy Pedulla said that OU’s policies on hate speech are hypocritical.
“Republicans can be hated on because people have these assumptions about us”, Pedulla said, citing a situation where a former College Republicans president was called a “nazi” while walking up Court Street and nothing was done about it.
Despite conflict over certain issues, each side agreed that the debate was productive and successful.
“Overall, I think it went well,” Evans said. “No one got out of hand, no one got angry.”
Fishwick echoed Evans, but wished the subject of abortion had been brought up.
“That’s a huge issue the state is taking on,” she said.