Socialist and libertarian student organizations added to political debate

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Members of the UT libertarian and socialist organizations will participate in the UT student political debate after members affiliated with Young Americans for Liberty convinced organizers to add them to the event.

The debate originally only included College Republicans and University Democrats after John Falke, Student Government university-wide representative and a moderator of the debate, said it was too late to add other groups to this year’s debate because they had already discussed moderators and topics. Falke said after talking to several people about the issue, he was convinced the inclusion of more groups was necessary. 

“Apparently, [Young Americans for Liberty had been not invited to events before, and the whole reason I wanted this was for civic engagement, and so I realized that at what point is their exclusion doing more harm than good?” Falke said. “I just talked to a lot of people and they seemed to agree — why not put more groups in?”

Falke said he added Young Americans for Liberty to the debate on Friday and the International Socialist Organization on Saturday.

Undeclared sophomore Patrick Hillery, president of Young Americans for Liberty, said he thinks the group was able to convince Falke to let them enter into the debate because they were too active on campus to ignore.

“In the previous year we’ve grown a lot as an organization and have done a lot as far as activism goes,” Hillery said. “In the past, it was harder to make the case that we were just as an active part of the university’s political spectrum of political ideology just because we were smaller, but because we had such a successful year last year, it made a lot more sense.”

Computer science senior Mukund Rathi, International Socialists Organization member, said the group is preparing for the debate, but he wishes they could have been added earlier so they could have been promoted the same way other bigger groups were.

“I think if this had been decided earlier so it could have been advertised as more than just College Republicans versus University Democrats, I think there could have been a larger audience and an audience with different character,” Rathi said. “I think students increasingly are not simply interested in hearing what either of the two parties have to say.”

Government junior Madison Yandell, College Republican president, said she thinks the inclusion of the two other groups could make more students interested in the debate.

“We welcome diversity to this debate,” Yandell said in a statement. “It will be great to hear views from the several different political groups on campus. Including YAL and ISO will likely increase student interest in the event as well.”

Although the groups were added to the debate, Hillery said he and other members of Young Americans for Liberty also feel frustrated that they were added so late because they have much less time to prepare their talking points, while the University Democrats and College Republicans have had a larger advantage.

“I think it puts us at a slight disadvantage, especially just knowing about this the weekend before the debate,” Hillery said. “I’m not too worried, though, because the people we have speaking are very well versed and educated individuals.”

The debate will be Monday at 8 p.m. in Welch 1.316. Claire Smith, The Daily Texan editor-in-chief, will guest moderate the event.