Red and blue clashed in NYU political party debate

By Kavish Harjai, Staff Writer

via facebook.com

At the semi-annual NYU College Republican-Democrat debate, both student organizations engaged in a heated discussion about fracking and the Affordable Care Act.

“We chose these specific topics, fracking and the Affordable Care Act and government shutdown, through consensus,” said Chloe Chik, secretary for the College Democrats.

The debate format consisted of opening statements from both sides, followed by successive rebuttals to each opening statement. Each side prepared two questions to ask each other after the rebuttals. After these questions, the audience was also able to ask two questions of each side.

CAS junior Amanda Dolan and Steinhardt junior Victor Li represented the Democrats while Steinhardt freshman Ella Kuzmenko and CAS senior Ashok Deshmukh argued for the Republicans in a discussion of hydraulic fracturing, a method of mining oil.

The Democrats stressed the point that fracking is exempt from numerous federal laws and has imminent, detrimental environmental and health effects.

“There is still much that we do not know about the process,” Dolan said in her opening statement. “Fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which protects the health and safety of the American citizen.”

The Republicans focused on economic benefits in the states that currently allow fracking.

“The number of unemployed New Yorkers in southern counties is 15,300 people,” Deshmukh said in his opening statement. “The New York Department of Environmental Conservation commissioned a study that potential hydrofracking would lead to [job] security. The average projection of growth predicted … 25,000 jobs in well-construction operations, as well as 29,000 jobs in transportation.”

Although both sides did not agree on specific policies regarding fracking, they concurred that fracking should be reformed.

“I am glad that the Republicans mentioned that they want to see the fracking system be reformed,” Li said after the debate. “I disagree with their premise that fracking does not cause any environmental or health problems because we know that there are communities that are in pain right now due to fracking. But I do think that it could be a part of America’s energy future, if it is done responsibly and done in the balance of the law.”

The second debate focused on the legality and morality of health care.

Tisch junior Genevieve Marcy and CAS freshman Drew Weber represented the Democrats. Gallatin junior Megan Powers and Steinhardt junior Anthony Sganga argued for the Republicans.

The point of contention for both sides was the economic benefit, or lack thereof. While the Democrats urged the audience to understand how the act would decrease the deficit, the Republicans noted the cuts to Medicare.

“I think there are a lot of things that need to be done in order for people to have access to health care,” Deshmukh said. “The only thing I take issue with is that there is always a lot of moral intimidation. [For example] if you don’t support this bill, then you’re a bad person. That’s the only thing I take issue with.”

The next debate between the two on-campus clubs will take place in the spring semester, and the topics will be determined at a later date.

Kavish Harjai is a staff writer. Email him at [email protected].