SG to vote on sponsoring annual political debate

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John Falke, a University-wide representative in Student Government, speaks at a meeting Tuesday evening. Falke co-authored a resolution that would allow SG to host an annual debate between political groups on campus.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Student Government will vote next week on A.R. 11 in support of hosting an annual debate between campus political groups.

The resolution, drafted by SG members, states that the groups and UT will ensure an annual debate between political groups on campus. This year, the debate is scheduled for Oct. 12 and will be between University Democrats and College Republicans, according to John Falke, co-author of the resolution. Falke said officer board members from the two student political groups complained about not having enough public visibility for students, which prompted him to create the legislation.

“Debates have been super inconsistent in the past — I know they’ve had lots of different sponsors,” Falke said. “I kind of wanted to come in and establish this event sponsored by Student Government every single year in the fall semester, to where we could have this debate environment between the political factions of campus.”

The International Socialist Organization and the Longhorn Libertarians are two political groups who will not be featured in this year’s debate, according to Falke. Falke said he is open to having more political groups represented in the future, but it was easier for him to put together the debate with only the University Democrats and College Republicans.

“It’s a little too late to add them,” Falke said. “We’ve discussed topics. We’ve already discussed moderators. We’ve already had these discussions with the boards. I would say it is too late this year, and I wouldn’t say I was trying to add them this year, so I think it’s okay, but I’m hoping to add them in the future, and I hope they are added next year.”

Zachary Long, co-author of the resolution, said even though the resolution calls for only two groups to be at the debate, multiple political viewpoints will still be represented.

“There are many shades of ‘red’ and ‘blue’, if you will,” Long said. “I believe that the College Republicans and University Democrats are more than just strict red vs. blue, because there are many viewpoints that fall within the two respective parties.”

Mukund Rathi, computer science senior and International Socialist Organization member, said he could not remember a time since he’s been at UT that the Socialist group has been invited to join the debate. Rathi said even though the group has not been contacted about joining the debate, he hopes they are able to be involved in the future.

“I know that they try do it every year with the Democrats and Republicans, but I think our generation is increasingly not attracted to either of those two parties,” Rathi said. “I think that, in general, in the U.S. there’s been a lot of disappointment with how the two parties are and how they run congress and the federal government, so I think it would be nice if Student Government opened this debate up to other parties.”

Debate organizers and moderators will include members of the Student Government’s Hook the Vote Agency, the Student Government Federal Relations Agency, the Student Government Assembly and The Daily Texan.