Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College sponsored a student political forum and debate in the Jefferson Davis Campus Fine Arts Auditorium on Wednesday, Oct. 8. The program was moderated by Brian Carriere, social studies instructor at the JD Campus.
Part one of the debate consisted of a forum, with students participating in a Lincoln-Douglas style debate based on the political ideology of each party. Each team of debaters had five minutes to explain the general political ideology of its party. Each team then had an opportunity for a two-minute rebuttal of its opponents’ statements.
Part two was an actual debate in which students from the College Democrats, Independents and Young Republicans represented the platforms of their respective political parties. Teams took turns answering questions first.
Catherine Leatherwood of Long Beach, a member of the College Independents, said the debate was a learning experience for social studies students, but it also encouraged students to vote. “Our purpose [in the debate] was to educate voters and inspire in others that they can be active participants in their own government.”
Serge Huidobro of Gulfport, a member of the College Democrats, agreed, adding that voting is not only a right but an obligation of citizens. “Our civic duty, as Americans, is to educate and inform our fellow citizens of the issues facing this great country of ours. We encourage everyone to wake up early, take time off from work…whatever it takes…to exercise their right to vote this Nov. 4, no matter who they’re voting for,” he said.
Robert Deming of Biloxi, with the Young Republicans, added, “Our voice is our vote. In no other moment in our history has it been more important for us to think before we speak.”
Students who participated in the panel also discussed the issues on WJZD 94.5 radio with Rip Daniels, an on-air personality from the radio station, who was on the JD Campus for a special pre-debate show Wednesday morning.