Students Debate Healthcare Reform at Mount Union College

November 17, 2009

The Fall 2009 Student Debate centered around the topic “Resolved: The attacks on Obama’s Healthcare Reform are irrationally based on unfounded fear and political posturing, and hurt the Democratic process.”  Six Mount Union students debated this topic on Tuesday, November 10 at the College.

Participants for the resolution and who spoke in support of Obama’s healthcare reforms were Kaley Smitley, a senior English: literature major of North Canton and Jordan Widder, a freshman of Bolivar.  Participants against the resolution and who spoke against the government-run health plan were Aaron Boothby, a senior political science major of Wooster; Bradley Kerstetter, a junior business administration major of Louisville; Michael Luburgh, a freshman of Conesville; and Steve Yacovone, a freshman of Mineral Ridge.  The moderator for the debate was Dr. Thomas Gannon, professor of education and co-chair of the Department of Education.

Dr. Rodney Dick, assistant professor of English, served as the chief scorer and record keeper.  Judges were Dr. Fendrich Clark, assistant professor of communication; Theresa Davis, instructor of history; Robert Garland, director of libraries; Dr. Angela Smith-Alder, associate professor of criminal justice; and Harry Paidas, chair of the Department of Communication and assistant to the president for community affairs and special projects.

John Frazier, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, gave the introduction.  Alan Dean Schiffer, a sophomore of Arlington, VA opened by singing “Old Man River,” followed by Kelsey Tomlinson, a freshman of Cuyahoga Falls who sang “Dreamland.”

“I support the public healthcare option for two fundamental and simplistic reasons,” Smitley opened.  “Number one, it is a basic human right and number two, America needs it.”  She argued that the issue has become more of a political issue than a solution. 

“The attacks on Obama’s plan have been excessive, unwarranted and false from the beginning,” said Smitley.

Aaron BoothbyArguing against the resolution, Boothby focused on the Democratic process.  “The attacks are acceptable and necessary for the Democratic process to be successful,” Boothby said.  “In our system, it is important to hear both sides, not just the side of the President or the majority in Congress.”

Widder, in support of the resolution, asked audience members to look through the eyes of the 46 million Americans who are uninsured.  “The public option is exactly what is says,” Widder said.  “It is an option.  No one is telling you that you have to get it.”

Against the resolution, Yacovone placed emphasis on the responsibility of the individual, referring to John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you…” speech.  “We need to stop asking what the government can do for us, but see what we can do for ourselves,” he said.

Kerstetter used an analogy to explain his argument against the current healthcare bill.  “We can all agree that the healthcare bill isn’t perfect,” he said.  “Like Goldilocks and her three bowls of porridge, we cannot seem to find the mixture that can create that ‘just right’ healthcare bill.”  Looking at both economic and social consequences, he argued that the attacks on the reform are rational.

Also in support of the attacks on the bill, Luburgh discussed the competitive job market.  “Our government is for the people and by the people, so that’s why I believe there should not be government-run healthcare,” said Luburgh.

Dr. James Thoma, professor of human performance and sport business and associate dean of the College then distributed the awards.  Kerstetter received first place, Smitley received second and Boothby received third.

Dr. Santosh Saha, professor of history, has organized the Student Debate since 1993.

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