By Caitlyn Morral
[Image courtesy of abcnews.go.com]
Students at St. Bonaventure University brought out their political opinions this past Thursday by hosting a mock presidential debate in the Walsh Amphitheater. The debate included five students who stood at their designated podiums. Two students represented Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, while the remaining three represented Republicans Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and John Kasich.
Hosted by the College Democrats and the College Republicans clubs at Bonaventure, the debate began with each candidate introducing themselves and what they stood for.
The introductions were followed by a series of questions asked by two moderators. The first question of the debate asked if there would ever be an “end game” with ISIS, especially since the terrorist group has recently attacked France and Belgium within the past few months.
Freshman Saige Flickinger, who was standing in as Hillary Clinton for the night, was the first to respond. Flickinger said that the utilization of virtual methods and using social media as a weapon would be a powerful tool.
Junior and biology major Nikhil Gowda spoke for Bernie Sanders for the night, and made his point imperative by pointing out that “we cannot combat violence with hatred.”
“I have been a huge fan of Bernie Sanders and the campaign that he has been running,” said Gowda. “I chose to participate in this debate representing Bernie Sanders because I used to enjoy being a part of our school’s debate team in high school. I thought that it would be nice to represent him because I strongly agree with the stances that he takes on numerous issues.”
Once both the Democratic candidates and the Republican candidates had given their answers, the moderator asked each representative to present to the audience ways in which they would combat issues in society pertaining to police violence and race.
Junior RJ Moavero spoke for Donald Trump, and answered the question by stating that the people at both the local and state levels know their people the best. He went on to say that, when a police officer steps over his boundaries, it should be reported as so.
Junior and biology major and political science minor Kevin Cannavina represented Ted Cruz, and contributed to the lecture by saying that the second amendment is the constitutional right that is being attacked the most in today’s society.
“I have been getting very interested in this election cycle, and joined the College Republicans this semester,” Cannavina said. “I think that this was a great idea by the College Republicans and College Democrats to try and increase interest in the election around campus. It was a great experience for me, and I had a lot of fun.”
The night continued with some humorous remarks, including Cannavina lightheartedly jabbing Flickinger about Clinton and her more recent government e-mail scandal. Audience members had fun as well, applauding and nodding with every statement that they agreed with from their favorite presidential candidate that was being represented.
After two more questions relating to the minimum wage argument and immigration policies, the debate came to a close. Students who might not have known much about the presidential candidates could leave with a better understand about what each person stood for in his or her political views.
Freshman and biology major Rachel Pelsang stood in for John Kasich, and was fervent about representing him and arguing with the rest of the panel.
“Choosing to represent John Kasich was a great way for me to inform students about the candidate that doesn’t get as much media attention,” said Pelsang. “Ultimately, the Republican Party needs a candidate that is not as polarizing as Trump if they hope to win the upcoming election, and Kasich is touted as that individual.”
In terms of hosting another debate like this one, Pelsang is hopeful.
“I would definitely do this again in the future,” Pelsang said. “It was a really great opportunity for the St. Bonaventure campus.”