Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Full House at Electoral College Public Debate & Upcoming Events

Sean Illing, Nate Mortimer, Nate Graves, Erik Ekstrom, Mike Chen (Left to Right)                                    
On the eve of the last presidential debate for the 2016 election, the Rupp Debate Society, Idaho State University, hosted a public debate discussing the best way to elect future presidents. Sean Illing, Ph.D. and a journalist from served as guest moderator for the debate which lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes. An audience of one hundred watched the debate, posed questions during the audience participation portion of the debate, and voted to determine the winning team.

Dr. Zac Gershberg introduces Dr. Illing
Sean Illing moderates the debate.

The topic was: This house would eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with a popular vote for the President of the United States." Supporting the topic Nate Graves and Nate Mortimer argued that a direct popular vote was the best way to represent the will of the people and to make every vote count.  They also said that only 20% of votes count now due to presidential candidates' tendency to focus campaigning on swing states. Graves and Mortimer indicted the electoral college by suggesting that is has two levels of tyranny, the tyranny of the majority within states and the tyranny on the minority in national elections.    

Nate Mortimer and Nate Graves

Erik Ekstrom and Mike Chen rejected the topic arguing that we should repair the Electoral College through a proportional representation  plan that would link electoral votes to Congressional districts. They argued that a direct popular vote would allow candidates to ignore large swaths of the United States and focus only on highly populated areas. Additionally, they argued that their plan would best ensure protection against the tyranny of the majority and demagogues by preserving the electoral college while increasing representation.  

Erik Ekstrom and Mike Chen
Each speaker gave one five minute speech and one three minute rebuttal.  There was a 15 minute question and answer period in the middle of the debate where speakers answered questions posed by the audience and the moderators.  

The debate was decided by an audience vote.  The audience was polled both before and after the debate. The team who changed the most opinions was declared the winner.  Before the debate, 48% of the audience supported replacing the Electoral College with a popular vote while only 21% did not.  31% of the audience was undecided.  

Audience Poll Results Prior to the Debate

After the debate, 68% of the audience supported the motion to eliminate the Electoral COllege while 25% rejected the motion and 7% remained undecided. 

Audience Poll Results After the Debate
Notably, both teams increased support for their positions.  However, the team in support of the motion increased their level of support by 20% compared to 4% on the opposition side.  Therefore, Mortimer and Graves were declared the winners.  However, Moderator Sean Illing explained that he was more persuaded by the team arguing against the motion and that the team defending the electoral college had a more difficult job in the debate.  Consequently, both teams have something to celebrate and we are very proud of their performance last night.    
Opinion Shift Before and After the Debate
Next week, the Rupp Debate Society will be hosting the Rwandan debate team for three events. All events are free and open to the public. 
  • A photo exhibit in Fazier Hall (2nd Floor) Monday and Tuesday. 
  • A blended ISU/Rwandan Debate on Monday, October 24, at 6:00 pm in Rendezvous ABC on the question of forgiveness vs. justice in the wake of genocide.
  • A 15 minute documentary film and Rwandan student presentations Stories from a Post-Genocidal Generation in Business 104 on Tuesday, October 25, at 6 pm.

In 1994, over one million Rwandans were killed in a conflict between the Tutsi and Hutu tribes, leaving behind young people that now make up the majority of the population in the country. In 2003, over 80 percent of the killers were released back into the communities they once sought to destroy. The iDebate team from Rwanda will share their own stories and experiences of what its like to live in a post-genocide generation, and how they strive to live inspiring and impactful lives.

The first event will feature the ISU debate team and Rwandans debating in conjunction on the topic, “This house believes that in the aftermath of genocide, forgiveness is more important than justice.” The debate will take place on Oct. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Rendezvous Suites ABC.

“I think this event will be the first spark for people to start working together,” said ISU debater Cora Bidete. “It will allow us to see that there are cultural differences between us but regardless of that, there is a need for us to interact in a way that is positive and doesn’t insight an us versus them mentality.”

The next event titled, “Stories From a Post-Genocidal Generation,” will take place on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. in the Business Administration building room 104. Raphael Njoku, Chair and professor in the Department of Global Studies and Languages, will introduce the topic and give a brief presentation, followed by a documentary about the Rwandan students’ lives and a question and answer session.

“This will be such a humbling experience to debate with these students,” said ISU debater Cameo Curnutt. “The more that we immerse ourselves in these different cultures the more that we can get rid of the ignorance and intolerance that we have seen here.

The photo exhibit will portray the genocide of 1994 and will be on display on the second floor of Frazier Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Oct. 24 and 25.

Please join us for these events or contact with questions.