BUIES CREEK – As the nation braces for the 2012 Presidential Election, young Democrats and Republicans from Campbell University gathered this week in a student debate hosted by the Campbell Times.
A panel consisting of four members from both student groups participated in the debate - which attracted more than 150 students to the D. Rich Building Monday night – moderated by Campbell Times editors Louis Duke and Neal Inman.
“(The audience) came to life a couple of times despite some scolding by the hosts not to weigh in with applause,” said Dr. Michael Smith, professor of Communications Studies and Campbell Times adviser. “This crowd seemed particularly animated by issues regarding abortion, health care, homosexuality and other social issues.”
Social issues have also come to the forefront in the race for the Republican nomination for president, with several media outlets suggesting Rick Santorum’s surge has been the result of his stance on issues such as abortion.
College Republican James Stephens spoke against abortion Monday, saying his life began at conception.
“In 1991, there was a corporal coming home from Iraq, and there was a sophomore at the University of North Carolina,” Stephens said. “She became pregnant, and her son sits before you today … and my life is as valuable today as it was (at conception).”
Democrat Christopher Alexander didn’t argue the “conception” debate, but shared the view that women have the right to make their own decisions.
“While our party does not support abortion, we leave it to the woman to make that decision since it is her body,” Alexander said. “We don’t know what they are going through. We can’t make those calls for them. And we don’t think it is something we can force upon women.”
Duke said this was a key election year, it was even more important that students advocate their party’s stances on such key issues and inform their peers about the candidates running for office. The Campbell Times editor said the event may be the start of a new tradition at Campbell:
“We hope to be able to continue this debate as an annual event in the future,” he said. “It is always healthy in a democracy for the varying political factions to be forced to defend their ideas and positions in the public square.”
- by Jonathan Bridges, Campbell University Communications intern
- photo courtesy of The Campbell Times