In anticipation of the 2004 presidential election – which will take place exactly one year from yesterday – student representatives from four political parties exchanged views on a wide range of political topics.

Mira Levitan
A debate yesterday in the Vandenburg Room of the Michigan League features, from left, Jenny Nathan of the College Democrats, Nat Damren of the Student Greens, Andrew Moylan of the College Libertarians and Dan Grano of the College Republicans. (KELLY LIN/D

The debate, in the Vandenberg Room of the Michigan League, quickly became a discussion of American foreign policy and its effects on the world’s opinion of the United States.

“Global opinion is important, but we need to do what is right. Our power and strength make some people angry,” said LSA senior Dan Grano, who spoke on behalf of the College Republicans.

LSA junior Jenny Nathan, chair of the College Democrats, disagreed with Grano, voicing her party’s belief that the way to elevate America’s image is by taking heed of world opinion.

“We need to make our country safer … by consulting with our allies,” Nathan said. “Power gives us responsibility too. Unilateralism has done away with all that good will.”

LSA junior Andrew Moylan, co-chair of the College Libertarians, attributed the United States’ declining image abroad to its interventionist foreign policy. “The majority of (political) parties don’t deal with this issue. America has become the world’s police,” Moylan said.

Taking a break from national politics, the representatives discussed the Greenbelt proposal on the ballot in tomorrow’s city election. If passed, Proposal B would require a portion of property-tax revenue be used to preserve 18,000 acres of land in Ann Arbor from development.

Grano said the Greenbelt plan would only damage an already tight housing market, causing rent to rise in Ann Arbor, including for students. “The Greenbelt plan is one of the worst plans the government has ever put forward,” he said.

But LSA junior Nat Damren, co-chair of the UM Student Greens, said the plan is worth the potential rent increase because the majority of students could afford it.

“The Greenbelt can definitely affect housing prices, but the University has not built student housing since 1968,” Damren said. “We need to build up, not out.”

LSA junior Carolyn Hwang said she attended the debate because her friends were on the panel, but added she enjoyed the experience and hoped there would be similar programs in the future.

“The program was a great idea and doing political forums should be something we have more of here,” Hwong said.

Nathan said debating is important because it gives students the opportunity to become educated about what each party has to offer. “(Students) will be getting a clear idea of the differences between the Democrats, the Republicans, the Green Party and the Libertarians,” she said before the debate.

The debate was sponsored by Tzedek, a non-partisan group run through University Hillel that is dedicated to being a forum for political discussion, said Tzedek Co-Chair Jarod Sherr, a debate organizer.




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