College Republicans and Democrats debate state propositions as part of Rock the Vote

by Jocelyn Moran, Staff Writer

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With the presidential and local elections quickly approaching, the San Diego State College Republicans and College Democrats faced off in a debate in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Courtyard on Oct. 13 as part of Rock the Vote.

Rock the Vote is a campaign organized by Associated Students in an attempt to rally the campus community to vote. The debate was also organized by A.S.

Some questions asked during the debate included thoughts on the justice system, death penalty, higher education, climate change, minimum wage, immigration and refugees.

College Democrats President Divya Sriharan said both presidential candidates are not ideal for many people, but she urged people to think about the next four years and future of the country.

“Many of us are frustrated with our candidates this year, but this isn’t an election where we’re choosing between lesser evils,” Sriharan said. “We’re choosing how we want to be viewed as a country and what our future should look like.”

Reforming the justice system

Senior member of the College Republicans, Gavin Glenn, said he believes change can happen in the justice system and suggested inviting officers of the law into communities instead of fighting against them.

“If we all participate and not block traffic because something bad and unfortunate happened, we can deal with things much more peacefully,” Glenn said.

Sriharan, in response, said there needs to be something different to reform the justice system whether that be more training or teaching for police officers on how to better handle situations of people who are unarmed.

“The injustice has been there,” Glenn said. “The difference now is the cameras are turned on.”

The death penalty

There will be two measures in the California state ballot in November regarding the death penalty. Proposition 62 eliminates the death penalty in California and Proposition 66 speeds up the time between sentence and execution.

College Republicans member Vanessa McGoldvic presented an example of someone who has raped a child for several years and committed other crimes.

This person, she said, is sentenced to life in prison, but then escapes and continues to commit crimes. McGoldvic said it seems contradicting to continue sentencing this person to life in prison instead of giving them the death penalty.

“The Republican Party is the party of law and order,” McGoldvic said. “We have to uphold the law. It is essential we uphold the Constitution and what our country was founded upon.”

Sriharan said it is very unlikely for someone to escape from prison, and keeping a criminal in death row costs taxpayers more money than keeping them in prison for life.

Higher education

Both parties were asked about their thoughts on student debt and college tuition.

College Democrats member Omar Tapio said he believes there should be free state tuition for families making less than $125,000 a year and community colleges should be free.

“Everyone has a right to an education, but we also have to find more strategic ways than just having community college be free,” Glenn said in response.  

The environment

“The possibility of human activity being the primary cause behind greenhouse gases is absolutely false,” McGoldvic said.

McGoldvic supported her claim by providing a study conducted by a United State Census Burea paleoclimatologist that shows temperatures five million years ago were significantly higher than they are today.

Sophomore member of College Democrats, Bry Pace, said she disagreed with McGoldvic and believes global warming is absolutely caused by human activity.

Minimum wage

Pace said the minimum wage should be raised to $15.

“We need to help people who come from the low poverty level and help them increase their chances of moving out of that income bracket so they can prosper and help our economy,” Pace said.

Dennison said he doesn’t disagree with raising the minimum wage, but believes a $15 minimum wage is too high.

“Minimum wage jobs are not meant to be careers,” he said.

Immigration

Both parties were asked how they think the immigration system should be reformed.

Immigration must be regulated based on the success of our economy and living conditions in order to ensure all Americans provide short change in the long run,” Dennison said.

Tapio said the immigration system needs to be reformed, but in different ways. He said children who came to the U.S. illegally do not know any other way of life except the American way, and there should be a way for them to become citizens.

“The majority of immigrants here are good people,” Tapio said. “They pay taxes and get no social benefits back.”

Syrian refugee crisis

Tapio said the U.S. has an obligation to help refugees and has not been doing enough.

McGoldvic disagreed and said the Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, was the one who caused the problem.

“We have to protect the safety of our American citizens,” McGoldvic said.

Rock the Vote

Associated Students will host several events leading up to election day on Nov. 8 as part of Rock the Vote.

They are hosting a presidential debate viewing party on Oct. 19 in the Union Theatre and a City Council debate on Oct. 24 in the Union Theatre.

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