Constitutional Debate

A handful of students participated in a debate Wednesday in Sabine Hall, commemorating Constitution Week. Professor Rolanda Randle, professor of government, was in charge of moderating duties.

Although this was a debate, it wasn’t a traditional one-on-one affair with debaters tackling an issue individually. This one was strictly nonpolitical and only focused on the subject of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The debate teams were focused on the First Amendment freedoms of petition, press, religion, speech and assembly. While the students argued their points while being under a time limit, the audience from an English as a Second Language (ESL) class judged the participants based on performance.

Students discussed the details of the First Amendment with open arguments, then cross-examined each team and debated the issue briefly.

The majority of the teams used easily relatable and up-to-date events that applied to the First Amendment to make their point. Participants enjoyed being involved in a debate and going against their colleagues discussing the law and amendments that apply to them.

The audience declared Team Assembly the winner. The members of this team included David Foulenfont, Nabeeha Kazmi, Ryan Morrow and Victoria Patterson.

One notable highlight from the event was from Team Religion (Evelyn Lofand and Aracely Olguin) which argued “the government shouldn’t be able to tell individuals who to worship or believe in.” They also mentioned that, according to a professor at Duke University, religion has “helped people with depression, anxiety, drug abuse, psychosis, and it also helped with mental illness as well.”

Team Petition, Daniel Kapuku and Rafiou Lawani, used the constitutional debate as a way to elevate their knowledge of the document. “As far as the Constitution debate, I learned from all the sides, why the Constitution is there and why we need it for. We debated about which [amendment] is the best, and which ones should be kept. We still learned a lot of new things in which one has to offer to the table,” Elizondo said.

“It was a hard thing to like stress their points because you can’t say yes to one of them and they’re also important,” Lofland added.

Constitution Day is normally observed on Sept. 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the constitutional convention signed the document in Philadelphia.