With the election season approaching this November, the biannual AP Debate forum garnered student interest this year with an election-related topic for debate; whether “it should be the duty of citizens to vote in democratic elections” or not. The event was held on Wednesday, Oct. 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Music Mass Communications building.
The students were asked to prepare arguments for and against one premise: “It should be the duty of citizens to vote in democratic elections.”
Each side had two students argue in five-minute opening statements to frame the debate. Then, each attendee who wanted to speak was given two minutes to argue for or against. At the end, the original four students who had given opening arguments gave closing arguments.
“I feel as though while talking about why we should exercise our right to vote should be a part of the conversation, there is way more to it than that. We need a full reform of this electoral college so that the electoral college isn’t rigged against us because that way our voices will truly be heard,” freshman communications major Juno von Palko said, arguing for the con side.
Before the debate began, participants were asked to go on their smartphones and vote in a social media poll. The results of the poll showed on a large screen in the center of the stage at the end of the evening, determining that 59 percent of the attendants were on the pro side, 22 percent of the attendants were on the con side and 18 percent of the attendants were undecided on the issue.
After the debate, another poll was taken, showing 48 percent of the attendants were on the pro side, 42 percent were on the con side and 11 percent were undecided, making the pro side the winners.
“Being a mother, I have a child, and I want her to know that yes, it is your right to vote but it should be your responsibility to vote,” sophomore biology major Halie Ledbetter said.
The Communications Department holds a student debate every semester so that speech and communications students can get credit for their classes by participating in the debate. However, all students are welcome.
“I think this was a phenomenal debate,” Assistant Professor of Communications Rob Baron said. “There are a couple of ways you can measure debates, one is who wins and who loses, but for me as someone who’s in charge of moderating it, the best debates are ones where we have a lot of participation, and compared to past debate forums, this has been a really good, well-attended and active debate. I was really happy to see a lot of students get up there and speak, and really happy to see lots of people make really good arguments on both sides of the debate.”