With Election Day 2016 right around the corner, UWG students from republican and democrat parties came together for a night to watch the political race unfold.

On Oct. 19 at 7 p.m., the Student Government Association (SGA) partnered with the UWG College Republicans and the UWG Young Democrats to host their first “Debate Watch.” Students gathered in the Campus Center Ballroom for a panel discussion, followed by the viewing of the final debate of the 2016 Presidential Elections.

Panelists for the UWG College Republicans included Avery Anderson, Shakara Williams and Gray Jackson while Lyndia Riley, Darion Reed and Zach Christian represented the UWG Young Democrats. Both parties hoped the event would educate students on the two candidates and encourage them to vote.

The panelists answered four questions that were given in advance. Party representatives had three minutes to answer each question. The speaker was flashed a yellow card at a minute and 30 seconds and then a red card at the end of three minutes. Once the red card was flashed, all conversation ceased immediately.

“I want students to have the opportunity to model civil behavior that we are not seeing from our national candidates,” said Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Dr. Scot Lingrell. “I hope students engage in a manner that will allow them to enjoy the conversation and still be friends once it’s over.”

SGA President Ethan Stiles moderated the discussion and introduced the viewing of the live debate afterwards. He reminded students that both organizations would be given the opportunity to speak and would be respected on their positions. Any belligerent or hostile conversations were not permitted.

“Our goal is to protect and represent all students equitably and honestly,” said Stiles. “Equal treatment is promised to both groups.”

Although many expected an arduous, heated debate between the organizations, the two political parties engaged in a civil conversation and even agreed on a few points. Both sides responded on international, national and state issues.

When asked briefly to describe the cornerstones of each parties’ beliefs and ideologies, the College Republicans said that they believe in equal opportunity but not equal outcome while the Young Democrats said that they believe in both.

The panelists were then asked why the candidate they represent deserves to be the next President.

“We can never see Donald Trump putting America at risk,” said Anderson.“He is a man who wants to put America first by bringing jobs back to the U.S. and keeping dangerous foreign immigrants out of this country.”

The Young Democrats also responded.

“Hillary is known for getting things done and for being a workhorse,” said Reed. “She’s ready for the presidency and it’s about time.”

Another question was what would each party do to change the current political climate.

College Republicans responded by explaining how the divide in our country is greatly contributed to the media.

“Despite what the media wants to say, we actually do want fair and equal treatment,” said Williams. “ The Republican Party does not see you as a part of a party or a certain political stance, we just see you as a person.”

Staying on the topic of media, the Young Democrats urged audience members to think critically about what they hear and read, especially when buzzwords are involved.

“We should be looking at every bit of information and forming our own opinions,” said Riley. “Politics is personal and it affects each and every one of us everyday.”

When asked the final question of what national issues each party needs to address in the upcoming presidential cycle, both parties responded with the criminal justice system.

After the conversation was over, students and members of the Carrollton community stuck around to watch Democratic and Republican candidates square off at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

All registered Georgia voters are eligible to vote early in person at select locations until Nov. 4.  Voters may also vote on Election Day, Nov. 8. Polls are open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Don’t forget to bring photo identification, which can include a Georgia driver’s license (even if expired), a Georgia voter ID or other ID card issued by the State of Georgia or an employee photo ID issued by the US government.

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