UMass Students Discuss Politics and Policies in Respectful Debate

By Marla Friedson

On Wednesday, Feb. 28, more than 100 students filled the Commonwealth Honors College Events Hall to watch the UMass Democrats and UMass College Republicans debate on a wide range of topics, including taxation, healthcare, the Iran-nuclear deal, and immigration. Daniel Gordon, professor of history, served as moderator.

Each group started with an opening statement. The UMass Democrats began by briefly going over their stance on each of the topics, while the UMass College Republicans expressed their awareness and recognition that they are a part of a campus that leans very liberal. Because of that, members said they were appreciative of the opportunity to debate and have their voices and ideas heard.

Throughout the debate, students on both sides remained friendly and professional when speaking their mind and answering questions posed by Gordon. UMass Democrats emphasized the importance of healthcare as a basic right and their value of keeping families together when it comes to immigration, while UMass College Republicans called for modifying healthcare to be more affordable and their desire for immigration that happens through the proper, legal channels.  

“We know that bridges are better than walls,” Kim Phan of the UMass Democrats stated.

While the audience was extremely attentive and engaged throughout the debate, one moment in particular captured their attention and gained their applause.

When discussing healthcare benefits, UMass College Republicans speaker Carly Bishop said, “I’m going to say something very un-Republican. And it will really showcase the diversity of our party. I think that healthcare should cover abortion and transgender surgeries.”

She continued, “I think that it’s a person’s right to feel comfortable with their body and a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body and I don’t think it should be up to insurance companies what I do with my body.”

The debate was streamed on Facebook Live and is still available for viewing.

The UMass College Republicans meet every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Student Union room 411. The UMass Democrats meet every Wednesday at 8 p.m. and post the location on their Facebook page.

Marla Friedson is a senior double-majoring in communication and journalism with certificate in film. She is currently working in the Office of News and Media Relations as a diversity social media assistant. 

  • Students at the political debate
  • The crowd at the political debate