Students, faculty, administrators, and local residents gathered this Tuesday, not to watch the vice-presidential debate, but to hear a discussion on an issue some consider more pressing. The event, "Homeland Security, Human Rights, and Labor on the US-Mexico border," started at 6 p.m. in Social Sciences 122. People were there to listen to a resolution on whether or not the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should be expanded to allow a policy of infinite work visas.
For slightly less than an hour, four members of the Parliamentary Debate Society squared off using their rhetorical skill to try and persuade the audience that their case was the most persuasive. Laura Mazer, the judge and a third-year religious studies concentrator, made sure the debatersIan Kemp and Tim Fletcher for the government side, and Tom Ross and Shalin Desai for the oppositionkept to the pre-set time limits. The event marked a collaboration between three prominent organizations on campus: the Chicago Debate Society, the Model United Nations Team, and Voices United.
"We're hoping that, between the two clubs (Model UN and the Chicago Debate Society), we'll be able to create a product the whole school can enjoy and learn from," said David Siffert a fourth-year in the College, who is both vice president of Model UN and a varsity parliamentary debater. He noted that the goal of the event was to have 100 people, but that the exact figure was unknown. "It was very successful, with great speeches and great attendance, and I was very pleased by how it went," he said.
Audience member Ryan Egan, a first-year in the College, said, "Campus debates like this one are great because they allow you to sit back and look at an issue objectively and watch how an issue resolves itself."