The Spanish and Latino Students’ Association hosted a civil discussion titled “This is Not Your Parent’s Election” on Oct. 27.

The meeting was designed so that both candidates’ points of view and positions on different topics were presented by representatives from the Democratic and Republican clubs on campus.

Senior Mike Moriosi and sophomore Marquis Harrison represented Senator John Kerry’s policies while senior Clarence Hardy, junior Contessa Gibson and freshmen Anthony Scott and Peter Ozug gave President George W. Bush’s plans.

“My goal was to educate the student body on both candidates’ views so they can make the right decision when going to the polls on Nov. 2,” sophomore and political manager of SALSA Sarah Malla said.

“We wanted to help people to possibly get a better idea on who they want to vote for,” junior and President of SALSA Bladimir Santamaria added. “[And] we want to encourage people to vote.”

The discussion started smoothly with each side presenting Bush’s and Kerry’s opinions and policies regarding education, covering issues like the No Child Left Behind Act and standardized testing.

The Kerry side argued that Bush had done a poor job in funding the No Child Left Behind Act and by implementing standardized testing President Bush was waiting for schools to fail before giving them money.

Bush’s side responded that the standardized testing was needed in order to identify the schools that needed the most help and that “throwing” money at the problem was not going to fix anything.

Foreign policy then followed. The discussion soon became heated and the civil discourse turned into an intense debate over the war on terror and the USA PATRIOT ACT.

The Republicans pointed out that the USA PATRIOT ACT had helped to catch criminals all over the country and the war against Iraq was successful in that is removed Saddam Hussein from power.

The Democrats countered that the USA PATRIOT ACT was a violation of people’s First Amendment rights and that the war in Iraq was a disaster which needlessly lost American and Iraqi lives and isolated the United States from the international community.

Another topic discussed was employment, which also proved to be a contentious issue. Both sides had strong opinions on tax cuts for businesses, raising the minimum wage and the outsourcing of jobs from America.

Civil rights, abortion and gay marriage were the last topics discussed.

The Democrats and Republicans disputed over affirmative action, whether or not it is necessary for women to receive a late-term or partial birth abortion and a constitutional ban against gay marriage.

At the end of the evening the participants expressed satisfaction with the way the discussion had gone. “[We were] supposed to get [our] candidate’s views heard, which I think we did,” Ozug said.

“We got our voices out, which is important,” Scott added.

For those who did not participate in the debate itself, the experience was equally rewarding.

“I went into the debate knowing I was going to vote Kerry and after the debate reaffirmed my decision,” freshman Caroline Murray said. “After hearing the talk, I realized how important the election was and how important it was that Kerry win – even though that is a little outdated.”

“The debate gave me more insight on Kerry’s positions on the topics discussed and it strengthened my reasons for voting for him,” Malla said. “In the discussion I learned about some of the things Bush has done these past four years that have had a negative impact on us, that a lot of people don’t know about.”

Sophomore Jason Perez, business manager of SALSA, said that the debate was held for bipartisan educational reasons. “We wanted to make sure on voting day when people go to the voting booths that they vote for the candidate that they want rather then voting because they are part of a certain party,” he said.

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