By CHELSEA Rauss, Guest Writer
On Wednesday, the Political Science Association hosted its first ever political ideology roundtable, “Talking: SH!T.” Although no round table was present, the event featured discussion and debate amongst six representative students, who united to discuss four major issues pressuring policymakers today: immigration reform, gun control, income inequality, and The War On Terror.
The rules were simple. Each panelist had exactly two minutes to discuss his or her position on the issue at hand, before moving onto the next individual. If a panelist wished to discuss further, two additional one-minute rebuttals were to be granted to each throughout the event.
Kelsey Lewcynski served as moderator. She exhibited no timidity, armed with her wooden train whistle and quirky personality, in silencing participants who had spoken out of turn.
Hussein Jaward, Ignacio Marques, Dominica Convertino, Bradley Pischea, Kent Douglas, and Jason Schweder were the night’s panelists, representing the Independents, Libertarians, Democrats, Republicans, Social Democrats, and members of The Green and Constitution Parties, respectively.
Some had prepared speeches, while others, such as emphatic sophomore Dominica Convertino, preferred to speak point-blank about their party’s point of view. By the end of the night, however, all had formed impromptu statements as either rebuttals or responses to audience questions.
One such occasion featured a short spirited debate between Democrat Convertino and Jason Schweder of the Green and Constitution Parties. An audience member had asked why America is still a bipartisan nation. Schweder asserted that individuals who believe a third party vote is a wasted vote are responsible, to which Convertino said, “I’m sorry, Jason, but it is a wasted vote.” She furthered her claim by stating that America has a “apathetic civil culture,” making it easier to choose from two, rather than several options.
Independent Hussein Jaward agreed, stating that he prefers to vote for the “lesser of two evils.”
As anticipated, opinions also varied significantly on the four major matters. For example, all six panel members agreed that America has an issue with income inequality, yet the proposed solutions took on vastly differing viewpoints, including Kent Douglas’s view that we ought to take note of Iceland’s economy and allow some of our banks to fail, alternate panelists’ favoring for stimulus packages, and Marquez’s view that the U.S. Dollar should return to backing by gold and/or silver.
Opinions on gun control featured Convertino and Schweder at the extremes. Convertino argued for major gun control reforms, suggesting background checks and mental health screening for anybody wishing to purchase a gun. Schweder, on the other hand, argued for freer Second Amendment rights and stated that disarming the public has been a maneuver used by tyrannical governments throughout history.
Most on the panel favored relaxed immigration policy and opposed The War on Terror, with the primary exception of Republican Pischea, who expressed concern for national security.
Talking: SH!T gave students the opportunity to witness discussion of political issues relevant to today’s world. Additional participation through written audience questions formed the general consensus that the event raised positive awareness on campus.
Attendee Andrew Johnson said, “There’s still stuff I’m not really sure about, but it was definitely interesting.”
Several organizations at the university sponsored the discussion, including The College Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty, The Secular Student Alliance, The Alternative and Social Democratic Critics Organization, The Pre-Law Association, The College Democrats, and College Students for Individual Liberty.
Schweder, one of the originators, was pleased with this year’s turnout. Explaining that Talking: SH!T was still in its infancy this year, he expressed optimism for the future, saying, “Next year we will fill it for sure.”