Illini Democrats, Republicans debate hot-button political issues


Hannah Auten

Illini Student Senate members hold Republican-Democratic debate in the Union. October 6, 2016.

By Karen Liu, Contributing Writer

A month away from concluding a contentious presidential election, the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is one of the hottest topics on campus. In this spirit, the Illinois Student Senate (ISS) hosted a debate between the Illini Democrats and Illini Republicans.

The debaters represented different parties but spoke on behalf of their own personal views at the Illini Union Thursday night.

“The time for constructive and open political discourse on campus is now needed more than ever,” according to the ISS Facebook page.

Evan Keller and Rahul Raju represented the Illini Democrats. And Stephanie Menezes and Tayven Urbanc represented the Illini Republicans. Debaters from both sides expressed their views on some of the contemporary problems regarding today’s society.

Each side had their own moderator. Nigel Howard represented the Illini Democrats, and Grant Taylor represented the Illini Republicans.

Throughout the two-hour debate, the two moderators gave out questions on topics including refugees, federal minimum wage, climate change and the Illinois ACCESS bill.

The moderators also added a follow-up question regarding Donald Trump’s plan of building a wall along the border of Mexico and the United States.

At the end, the moderators asked each side to come up with one policy proposal that they would like to see passed by their party in office. The democratic side chose comprehensive immigration reform, and the republican side expressed that they would like to see the Affordable Medical Act repealed so that individuals can choose what’s best for them when it comes to medicine.

Although they represented different parties, the debaters were ultimately surprised by discovering they had similar views on certain topics.

“Democrats and Republicans agree on a lot of things,” said Raju near the end of the debate, “and that is profoundly powerful.”


Question from moderator Illini Democrats Illini Republicans
Would stopping refugees entering the country help prevent terrorism? No.

America has a complete process for emitting refugees, and the chances of refugees participating in terrorist activities is very limited


We can not efficiently conduct the process of emitting a refugee due to situational factors.

Should the federal minimum wage be raised? Yes.

A low minimum wage may lead to those with low-income having little motivation in working and more reliance on social services.


Raising minimum wage will lead to fewer jobs and a higher unemployment rate.

What, if any, action should the government take to combat climate change. Yes.

The government should subsidize renewable industry for immediate action.


The government should work with private sectors because government intervention on this problem had been ineffective in the past.

Should the Illinois ACCESS bill be passed? Yes.

All students should be given the chance to pursuit higher education regardless of their citizenship status.


Financial aids are funded by tax, therefore should be given to the students’ whose parents paid federal tax.

Should we simplify the immigration process? Yes.

America can benefit from granting citizenship to those who are educated in the US so that they can serve the country.


America should arrange programs helping immigrants fit into their new environment and educate them on the opportunities they have.

Do we need to build a wall along the Mexican border? No.

It’s not fiscally responsible, effective or necessary.


Border security is important but the wall is not necessary, and it’s too expensive.

Should we have mandatory minimum sentence? No.

Abolishing mandatory minimum sentence allows the judge to look at each case individually and decide what’s best for the community. It also gives people with a small drug problem a chance to be a valuable functioning member of society.


We should adjust the mandatory minimum sentence instead of abolishing it because it promotes fairness and prison reform can offer those with drug addiction a punishment that is better and more beneficial for them.

How would you address the increased national deficit due to rising interest rates? Common priority.

The government should stop reckless spending on things that are not necessary.

Reallocate funds.

The people should be able to spend money however they want instead of having the government decide for them.

Should we lower taxes on big corporations to prevent them from moving out of the country? No.

The big corporates are threatening to move only to keep their tax rate low when they are already paying less due to the loopholes in the law.


Corporates are after benefits so they will leave if they can earn more profits by moving out of the country, taking jobs with them.

How do you address public access to guns? Increase limitations.

There should be cooling off periods, background checks so that we can reduce gun violence.

Support people’s rights to own guns.

People should be allowed to own guns to protect themselves since those who use guns for illegal activities will gain access to guns illegally regardless of gun laws, but adequate background check is necessary.


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