Political Organizations Debate on Campus
October 20, 2004 11:40 AM
Emotions ran high at the Debate Against War Friday, Oct. 15, where student run organizations hosted a lively discussion at a crowded auditorium inside Burk Hall.
In SF State’s first political student debate, College Republicans, Students for Nader, and Students Against War voiced their concerns in a two and a half hour format. Six minutes was allotted for one member of each organization to declare their parties stance on the War in Iraq.
Foreign policy leading to the U.S. led war in Iraq dominated the six panel discussion that alternated between debate, rebuttal and, often time, negotiators of peace, to an audience who was also eager to express their political views.
“The problem is not that we where too imperialist, but that we where too passive,” said Christopher Finarelli, Vice President of College Republicans in his opening speech that outlined the events leading up to Sept. 11, specifically the 1993 World Trade Center attacks, the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Africa and the U.S.S. Cole bombing in 2000.
Finarelli ended his remarks by asking his neighboring panelist to detail their parties post 9/11 actions followed by an explanation of how the U.S. would be today as a result of those policies.
That request was not immediately addressed, instead, Brandi Chalker, from Students Against War, highlighted the organizations, “four points of unity,” that calls for an end to oppression of all people and a social demand to fund schools for education.
“We oppose all U.S. occupation and wars of aggression,” said Chalker, a petite woman whose voice could be heard outside the basement halls where students stood in the doorways to see the debate.
“The report came out last week that proves that there were no weapons of mass destruction,” said Chalker, referring to U.S. weapons inspector David Kay’s committee meeting with the Senate of Armed Forces last Wednesday.
The tone of the debate escalated when Students for Nader, Leigh Smith asked, “Why is this happing?”
“Wars are launched for profit,” said Smith, as she reiterated comments made by Students Against War.
During her rebuttal, Smith admonished the audience to mobilize against war by joining any progressive organizations dedicated to enacting change.
“What we get from Kerry and Bush is ‘trust me’ not, build, unite, struggle,” said Smith.
The debate hit a rough spot when the moderators from College Republicans and Students for Nader could not control random outburst coming from an audience already equipped with enough boos, jeers and applause to last all night.
“Obviously Cheney is a total Nazi,” said a male student who sat on the front row.
Finarelli shook his head and pointed his finger at the student.
“Just to let you know, he was at a debate in Berkeley and the police had to escort him out,” said Finarelli, alerting the public to the blond-haired youth wearing a cobalt cotton tee shirt.
“The Nazi is a socialist like the guy you’re representing,” said a female student who sat next to him.
Another student sitting in the second row cut through the mumbling to direct a question towards Students against War.
“Your said the main reason we should pull out of Iraq is because women and children are being killed…Do you think we should have not stopped Hitler during WWII,?
A long silence followed, the quietest moment during this heated debate caught Chalker and Ed Hernandez, member of the Internationalist Socialists, off guard as they debated among themselves who would answer.
Hernandez attempted to answer the question but midstream the panelist decided change the format once again. Other students were anxiously waiting to have their voices heard. By the end of the debate, Students against War did not return to the question.
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