Rowan Republicans and Democrats Host Annual Debate

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*Editor’s Note: A rebuttal made by the Rowan Republicans that was made after the debate has been published to give fair and unbiased coverage of the event.

The Rowan Republicans and Rowan Democrats hosted their annual debate on Tuesday, April 12. The debate: transgender people in sports, COVID-19, voter id & rights, and gun rights. 

The event was held inside the Chamberlain Student Center Pit and started at 7 p.m.

Representing the Democrats: Rory Newman, Anushree Chauhan, Andrew Park, Trevor Jedwabnik, Mike Zupko, Nick Dannenfelser, Rory Newman, William Kaminer, Trevor Jebwabnik, Nic Lawniczuk, Andy Park, and Anna Bray. 

Representing the Republicans: Madison Laganella, Elizabeth Guinta, Reilly Kerr, Danny Tepper, Vikas Addanki, Eric Holmes, and Armani Rodriguez.

The first topic of the night was transgender people in sports. Both the crowd and representatives of each party were not afraid to hold back their opinions as the debate grew increasingly more enthusiastic.  

Olympic athletes such as Lia Thomas were mentioned at the debate, whether or not transgender athletes should be able to compete in the Olympics. 

Republican representatives made the claim that trans women are biologically male. Whereas Democratic representatives argued that trans women are women. 

Focusing on biological sex, Republicans made the argument that transgender athletes, such as Lia Thomas, have a biological advantage since trans women are biologically female.

Republicans also argued that allowing for transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics, or any sports, is not fair to biological women.

Republicans claimed not to deny trans women.

“Here at Rowan Republicans we do respect the Transgender community,” said Reilly Kerr, the vice president of the Republican party.

The opposing side, the Democrats, argued that trans peoples should be allowed to compete in sports. 

William Kaminer, a Democratic representative, is a sophomore political science major. After the transgender debate, which Kaminer was not part of, commented to the debate.  

“Republicans used debating trans athletes as a wedge to slowly chip away at trans rights,” Kaminer said. 

“We never said trans women aren’t women. Trans women are women,” Kerr said during the transgender debate. 

According to The Science of Psychology: An Appreciative View by Laura A. King, there are distinctions between sex and gender.

King claims in her book, “sex refers to the properties of a person that determine his or her classification as male or female.”

There are five properties King lists to use to describe sex: chromosomes, gonads, hormones, genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics.

On the other hand, gender is more of a loose leaf term. 

According to King, “gender refers to the social and psychological aspects of being female or male. Gender goes beyond biological sex to include a person’s understanding of the meaning of being male or female.” 

The second debate of the night was everything COVID-19 related. From vaccines and masks to the economic shutdown of the United States. 

A focal point of this debate was the vaccine vs natural immunity. 

Democrats acknowledged that natural immunity is real, but claimed that getting the vaccine ups an individual’s chances of survival. 

On the other hand, Republicans argued that natural immunity is much stronger than the vaccine.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there are different types of immunity. In both cases, natural and vaccine-induced immunities are types of active immunity

According to the CDC, “natural immunity is acquired from exposure to the disease organism through infection with the actual disease.”

However, “vaccine-induced immunity is acquired through the introduction of a killed or weakened form of the disease organism through vaccination.” 

The CDC concludes with, “either way, if an immune person comes into contact with that disease in the future, their immune system will recognize it and immediately produce the antibodies needed to fight it. Active immunity is long-lasting, and sometimes life-long.”

The second to last debate was voter rights and ID.

Democrats argued that voter ID should be less strict and intensive whereas Republicans argued that voter ID should always be required to vote.

Eric Holmes is the President of the Republican party at Rowan University. 

“Voting is the pinnacle of our republic,” Holmes said. 

According to Ballotpedia, “As of April 2021, 35 states enforced (or were scheduled to begin enforcing) voter identification requirements.” 

In New Jersey, voters are not required to show identification while voting but must do so beforehand if choosing not to present identification at the place of voting. 

Some forms of identification include: driver’s license, military or other government ID, student ID, store membership card, bank statement, and etc..

The last debate of the night was the most passionate: gun rights. 

The second amendment of the United States constitutes that its citizens have the right to bear arms. 

Both parties agree to the second amendment but there are fundamentals both parties disagree on. 

Democrats pitched for “common sense legislation” regarding gun rights. Keeping guns out of the hands of felonies and the mentally ill would significantly reduce crime.

With common sense legislation, obtaining a gun permit would be more difficult. Democrats argued that this would be the best solution to keep the United States safe.

Republicans also agreed that felonies and the mentally ill should not possess guns but were ultimately opposed to the idea of common sense legislation. 

Republicans argued that gun rights, especially focusing on New Jersey, are much too strict. 

The crowd grew wild and passionate, oftentimes yelling, booing, and shouting. 

At the end of the event, both parties shook hands and ultimately kept the debate civil.

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