SPSA Hosts Mock Debates

By Stephanie Brogna ’20

Image: Stephanie Brogna ‘20

Students gathered in McCaffery Lounge on Oct. 4 to witness their peers act as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and business tycoon Donald Trump in a mock presidential debate.

In correlation with the actual presidential debates, the Student Political Science Association hosted its own student crafted debate and enabled six students to argue against each other according to their designated candidate’s policy views.

Arguing on behalf of Clinton was Josie Chiba ’18, who is also editor-in-chief of The Griffin, Sam Covias ’20, and Shanti Panza ’19. Arguing on behalf of Trump was Richard Cotto ’19, Charles Neusch ’20, and Chris Sivel ‘18.

The students covered topics relevant to the current elections including contentious issues such as gun control, immigration, job creation and trade. Attending students also questioned the candidates and get answers to things they would never get answered during a real debate. The debate was moderated by James Owens Cutts ’20.

“I think [the debates] are important in an entertaining way to get people to understand the issues that are going on in the election,” said SPSA President Giuseppe Galantuomo. “I think it’s also great to have students articulate how they perceive what the candidates are saying and strengthen the argument.”

Galantuomo also emphasized that the student debate, just like the actual debates, are not just informative, but are also engaging and fun. Debaters on the Trump side interrupted Clinton debaters and added comedic facial expressions, voice impersonations and even masks to make the debates enjoyable for young voters.

“It’s a big entertainment factor, it’s important to get the students to understand these issues,” said Galantuomo.

“We have a very decisive election coming up, and I think that it’s important for young people to get involved politically,” said Panza, who is also SPSA vice president. “We have actually seen an increase in that, so that’s great. People have been paying much more attention to this campaign than any other, specifically young people.”

The debate not only enabled students to get involved with the Chestnut Hill community but also gave students a chance to inform themselves about the candidates’ political platforms and campaign strategies.

“Many people in this country get stuck in their ideologies, and it’s hard to take the extra step and truly understand others’ opinions,” said Galantuomo. “Sometimes when you are literally playing the other candidate you may look at an issue in a new way.”

With the upcoming elections, the SPSA has hosted several events that aim to engage young students in the political process. Most recently, the SPSA hosted a “Debate With Your Feet,” an event on Oct. 18th where students weighed in on current issues by walking to different sides of the room. The SPSA has also hosted debate watching parties, movie screenings, and celebratory Constitution Day activities.