Student debate highlights issues, encourages voting

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University Democrats and College Republicans squared off on political hot topics such as health care and immigration reform at the Hook the Vote debate on Wednesday.

The event was an attempt by the Hook the Vote coalition to encourage students to vote in the midterm elections. The debate consisted of three sections all moderated by Daily Texan Associate Editor Douglas Luippold.

Both teams had to respond to questions from The Daily Texan editorial board, each other and audience members. The moderator also included questions students sent to The Daily Texan editorial Twitter account.

Although questions included higher education topics such as rising tuition, the debaters mostly stuck to controversial issues. College Republicans President Melanie Schwartz said the border needs to be secured before the DREAM Act would be effective, and that the act does not benefit legal immigrants.

“Republicans think that the DREAM Act is a good idea, it’s just that a lot of other things are attached to it,” Schwartz said.

The debate was marked by occasional wise cracks and attempts by both sides to win the audience’s favor.

“It’s not a good sign when your state education board is on Comedy Central,” said University Democrats President Michael Hurta.

Schwartz responded that President Barack Obama will be on the channel soon.

“I think the most important thing for us was to show that while Democrats and Obama had this huge wave in 2008 in proposals, they have drastically under-delivered,” Schwartz said.

The student groups typically debate once a semester, but in light of the gubernatorial elections, the Hook the Vote coalition requested the extra debate.

“The whole purpose of the debate is to give students a source for information,” said Hook the Vote board member John Chapman. “It really is for the students who aren’t as well informed about the issues and it’s supposed to give them an opportunity to talk to their peers.”