Daniel Gai (left) speaks during the open forum debate on current issues hosted by Phi Alpha Delta Tuesday in the Henry Madden Library organized by Simren Gill (right) Matt Vieira / The Collegian
Phi Alpha Delta, a pre-law fraternity on campus, hosted an open forum debate Wednesday night in the Henry Madden Library on current issues such as the Second Amendment, water allocation in California and National Surveillance Agency’s surveillance of American citizens.
Phi Alpha Delta President Simren Gill said the debate forum was open to all students and was used as a way to spark interest in pre-law on campus.
This year’s Mock Trial and Debate teams have performed well on the national stage, she said, attracting interest in law among Fresno State students.
Gill said debate is a good way for students to develop better articulation skills. It helps students see things from a new perspective and encourages deeper thinking, making beliefs stronger by filling in holes within an argument.
When it came to choosing topics for discussion in Tuesday’s debate, Gill said the fraternity drew its inspiration from newspapers like the New York Times and The Fresno Bee. Many of the recurring topics in those papers were on Second Amendment rights, water allocation and government surveillance, she said.
Gill said organizers wanted questions that were relevant and recent to students.
The fraternity chose those specific topics because the topics tend to bring out strong beliefs and opinions, she said. The fraternity wanted questions that students would have much to speak and argue about.
The forum was the first of its kind on the Fresno State campus, Gill said. She said she hopes the next Phi Alpha Delta president will continue the event because it is a good opportunity for students.
Each person who participated was given two minutes to speak per topic, and about 30 minutes of time was allocated to each issue.
The first topic on firearms was unanimous, as discussants argued against the government banning firearms on public college campuses. Much of the talk focused on self-defense, guns as a potential to save lives in the right hands and whether or not it is unconstitutional for the government to ban people with a concealed carry permit from carrying it on campus.
On the issue of water allocation, many of the speakers agreed that farmers deserve to have the bulk of California’s water because the state is one of the nation’s leading producers in agriculture.
One person brought up the fact that the smelt — fish considered an endangered species — is part of the problem. Another speaker encouraged people to question whether the fish are worth the effort or if the economy holds a stronger importance.
For the final discussion about NSA surveillance, people were much more eager to give their two cents on the topic.
Some said the government is viewed as tyrannical or criminal because it hacks into the public’s systems just as hackers would.
One person argued that anything that is put online is fair game because it is out in the open. He said that many people don’t read the online agreements before agreeing to the terms of that agreement.
Audience members posed questions and the moderator stepped in when necessary to help move the discussion along.