Seven Republicans and four Democrats came together to discuss three national issues on Feb. 13.
In their first debate of the semester, Lehigh’s College Democrats and Republicans discussed military funding, affirmative action and immigration.
Emma Stevenson, ’18, the president of College Democrats, said this was the first time the two teams debated military funding, and after President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address, she anticipated it being a focal point of the discussion.
Members of College Republicans said the military creates many jobs, and if the government were to slash military spending, many Americans would lose their jobs, including the parents of some Lehigh students.
Members of College Democrats said the money the government allocates for military spending could be better used for other government efforts, such as after-school programs and research.
Although the groups had different opinions on the current state of military spending, both agreed a drastic reduction in the military budget or any government program could lead to greater issues for the U.S. as a whole.
Members of College Republicans said the government should implement the Penny Plan, which aims to cut 1 percent of spending every year. After a four-year presidential term, the U.S. government would spend 4 percent less than it would have without the plan in place.
Affirmative action was also a central focus of the debate. College Republicans said affirmative action policies are racist, while College Democrats argued the affirmative action system is broken and the way it is implemented needs to be fixed.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, affirmative action policies are typically focused in the areas of education and employment, and engage “in efforts to improve opportunities for historically excluded groups in American society.”
Donald Outing, the vice president for equity and community, told The Brown and White that today affirmative action and diversity are intermixed. He said affirmative action policies are implemented to overcome historic inequalities, and with such policies, there is greater diversity.
Outing said diversity ultimately makes people, especially students, more intelligent because they are introduced to a greater array of ideas and cultures.
“The value of diversity is to the development of all students,” he said. “Awareness, exposure — you can’t develop those capacities and understanding of awareness through a textbook. You need to understand experiences and interact with other people, you need to have a conversation.”
With the discussion of affirmative action came conversation about immigration policies under the Trump administration.
College Democrats said there are both legal and moral aspects to immigration. They said DACA can provide a solution to immigration issues. The College Republicans said immigrants should be brought into the U.S. on a basis of skilled labor.
College Republicans and Democrats agreed more of the Lehigh community should engage with opinions that fall on both sides of the political spectrum.
“I think that even if (a student is) a Republican, they should know the Democratic side and vice-versa,” said Garrett Anderson, ’21, a member of the College Republicans. “I think that people can be really ignorant about this kind of stuff. People want to believe what they want to believe.”