Hook the Vote hosts campus debate


Pearce Murphy

Longhorn Libertarians members Jordan Schmittou, Pierre Rochard and Caitlyn Bates debate the University Democrats Wednesday night in Gearing Hall during Hook the Vote & UT Vote’s debate. The debaters traded words about the presidential election, U.S. foreign policy and the cost of tuition.

Tiffany Hinman

Despite College Republicans’ decision to opt out of a debate Wednesday evening sponsored by Hook the Vote, more than 100 students attended the debate to learn the stances of University Democrats and Libertarian Longhorns on various issues.

The Daily Texan’s editor-in-chief Susannah Jacob and associate editor Kayla Oliver moderated the debate. Each organization was represented by three of its members. University Democrats’ panel consisted of biology freshman Taral Patel, history and government sophomore Carlos Martinez and sport management senior Pedro Villalobos. Libertarian Longhorns’ panel consisted of economics junior Caitlyn Bates, business graduate student Pierre Rochard and government senior Jordan Schmittou. Hook the Vote, a Student Government agency that aims to register students to vote and educate students on issues in a nonpartisan manner, hosted the debate.

Danny Zeng, government senior and communications director of College Republicans, said Tuesday night the organization opted out of the debate due to a lack of organization and concise planning on the part of Hook the Vote.

At the debate, Libertarian Longhorns expressed their support for 2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his three-point plan consisting of fiscal conservatism, social liberalism and noninterventionist foreign policy.

Schmittou, Libertarian Longhorns student member, said Libertarians give fresh, new and alternative solutions to America’s problems.

“We believe a good government comes from the ground up, not the other way around,” Schmittou said. “For too long we have felt this country has been dominated by a rigid two-party system that does not have the answers holding the interests of the people at heart, and Gary Johnson has proven a consistent record of fostering good, clean government.”

University Democrats defended the Obama administration and urged for a second term.

Martinez said America was losing up to 800,000 jobs a month before President Barack Obama was inaugurated. However, he said 5.2 million jobs were added four years later, followed by 34 months of consecutive job growth. Martinez said President Obama has had many accomplishments on social issues, such as the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, a military policy prohibiting openly gay, lesbian or bisexual Americans from serving in the military. Martinez said President Obama is also a women’s rights champion.

“Time and time again President Obama has proven to be an effective leader that knows what he is doing,” Martinez said. “He can lead this country back to prosperity. He is a realistic candidate for the President of the United States.”

Billy Calve, government senior and Hook the Vote director, said the debate’s high number of attendees reflected students’ desire to hear different perspectives. He said Libertarian Longhorns did well at stepping in and representing their beliefs.

“At the end of the day we were able to represent different pespectives on campus,” Calve said. “We were able to provide students with a chance to hear different political ideologies and learn what each group is about.”