George Mason University’s Student Government held “First of All We Vote 2014” last night in the Johnson Center Atrium.
The event, comprised of a debate between the College Republicans and the GMU Democrats, was hosted by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Mason Student Government and Mason Votes. With Virginia’s Senate elections today, Mason’s Student Government wanted to hold a debate about current global and national issues that the U.S. Senate will soon be dealing with.
The two student groups consisted of Dennis Garcia, John O’Reilly and Hunter Derensis for the College Republicans, and Joe Russell, Emma Copeland and Matthew Robinson for the GMU Democrats. A member of Mason Student Government and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. were the mediators.
Issues ranging from energy development to education were discussed. When asked about Virginia’s standardized testing and what they would do to reform it, John O’Reilly of the College Republicans believes No Child Left Behind should be stripped from its roots.
“Schools in our country have become factories for standardized tests. They’re self- sustaining bureaucracies in which kids are used as cattle to do tests [and] get high grades so their school gets more funding, for [more tests],” O’Reilly said.
Emma Copeland of the GMU Democrats also believes standardized tests aren’t effective.
“The Standards of Learning in Virginia are a flawed system that deeply disenfranchises students who are not given equal opportunity and not given an equal choice,” Copeland said.
When asked about plans and steps their party would take to defeat ISIS, Matthew Robinson believes it is important to recognize Obama’s foreign policy decision.
“We believe that with regards to troops on the ground, that the president has made his finding, and we know that the president is deliberative, so we know that he’s taken a lot of advice under consideration,” Robinson said. “There’s obviously dissenting opinion, but we also recognize that this is a reality of a representative system, that we have a country that is tired of war, and we aren’t looking for another one.”
The College Republicans argued that the United States should involve other countries in the fight against ISIS.
“In regards to how to properly combat ISIS, going forward there has to be talks with countries because all the Islamic countries in the Middle East, especially Sunnis, have denounced ISIS, but they have not been doing much themselves to stop [them],” O’Reilly said. “So we have to organize a coalition or go in there ourselves to take care of this problem once and for all.”
Almost every topic saw much debate and difference in opinion. Both parties encouraged Mason students to go out and vote today.
Photo Credit: Johannah Tubalado