Centre students to debate state and federal rights
February 2, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
debate state vs. federal rights at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9
in Weisiger Theatre.
A display of political rivalry will soon take place on the stage of the Norton Center for the Arts, but before it does, Centre students will take the stage to prove that political discourse doesn’t have to be contentious.
Representatives of the Centre Democrats, Centre Republicans and Centre Young Democratic Socialists will debate about state vs. federal rights issues at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9 in Weisiger Theatre. The debate will be moderated by Jody Lassiter, president and chief executive officer of the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, and will count as a convocation credit for students. The following day, a performance of “The Rivalry” will take place at 8 p.m. in Newlin Hall.
“We are excited about the opportunity to have students debate,” says Jordan Shewmaker ’14, a member of the Centre Democrats. “Events like these are important on campus to encourage students to challenge their political beliefs and preconceived notions.”
“The best part of this debate is the fact that students are engaging in a serious debate about the state of our nation,” says Alec Hudson ’14, president of the Centre Young Democratic Socialists. “There are people who think our generation doesn't care about the state of the world, and debates like this prove that we are informed about issues. We are living in interesting times, with a slow economy, social unrest and change occurring throughout the world, and it's great to be a part of the dialogue for the future.”
“Students attending the debate should look forward to a great experience where they will observe their peers entering a serious discourse on serious issues,” says Centre Republicans President Luke Wetton ’14. “It will be an informative discussion about the powers and the limits of state and federal rights, and an explanation of the ideologies of each respective group.”
The students involved understand why state and federal rights are still being debated after centuries.
“The federal constitution is the supreme law of the land. However, the Constitution also gives states the privilege to make laws that are not covered by the Constitution,” Shewmaker says. “I believe the founders left the exact rights of the states and federal government vague intentionally to suit the needs of the nation. However, the debate between the rights of the state and federal governments has been an ongoing battle since the founding of the United States.”
The debate will likely put both longstanding and contemporary issues on display.
“Students should expect to see an old-fashioned debate over the federal system. I expect that some recent legislative controversies will be raised as well,” Shewmaker says. “I would encourage students to come to the debate with open ears, prepared to challenge their belief system, and with the reverent thought in mind of our founders as they set out to lay the foundation for the United States government.”
The students agree that civil debates like this are crucial examples that politics doesn’t have to be divisive.
“One of the reasons it is important to have events such as this is that it allows students to see that controversial subjects can be approached civilly and rationally,” Wetton says. “Besides the fact that it raises political awareness and involves students, it shows that people espousing different views can ‘agree to disagree.’”
“I find it encouraging that students of different political backgrounds will debate and have a healthy discussion about political ideology.”
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.