The A.S. Council co-sponsored a debate Wednesday night between Democratic congressional candidate Susan Davis and incumbant Republican congressman Brian Bilbray in the Price Center Ballroom as each hoped to win the votes of UCSD students in the Nov. 7 congressional election.
About 225 individuals attended the event even though Bilbray had to participate in the debate over the phone from Washington because Congress came back into session early.
Davis was not happy with the situation.
“”I think it’s always awkward when there is not a person there,”” Davis said. “”But the fact that so many students showed up was great.””
Although A.S. Vice President Internal Jeff Dodge, who organized the event, was initially unhappy over the turnout, his satisfaction increased as the numbers grew larger as the night wore on.
“”The turnout disappointed me at first, but by the end I was pleased,”” Dodge said. “”It definitely went well.””
Those in attendance listened as each candidate gave an opening statement, followed by replies to 10 questions, and finally a closing speech.
Throughout the debate, the candidates were able to give their views on such topics as cultural diversity, tax cuts for college students, prayer in school and hate crime legislation.
Davis said she is in favor of diversity on college campuses as it is a clear representation of the area surrounding the school.
“”I am very supportive of diversity,”” Davis said. “”Congress should look like the nation and the school should look like the community.””
Bilbray said he also believes in similar notions although he stresses socio-economic diversity.
“”I find the greatest disadvantage [to students] is the economic factor no matter what their color or gender is,”” Bilbray said. “”We need to make sure that students throughout the country can qualify on their merit to get into schools. The problem is three-dimensional, not two.””
Furthering their debate concerning the lives of college students, both Bilbray and Davis said they were in favor of decreasing taxes for college students.
Over this issue Bilbray attacked President Clinton who is currently writing legislation to allow tax cuts for the parents of college students and not college students themselves.
“”I think it is arbitrary for this just to be for parents,”” Bilbray said. “”Why not for anyone who is willing to make this commitment to go to school. The students themselves should get the same treatment as adults.””
Despite Bilbray’s words, Davis said she is unsure about Bilbray’s concern for higher education.
“”I could have pointed out [during the debate] his voting against higher education, but I chose not to,”” Davis said. “”He supported a $10 billion cut in money for college students.””
This bill, HR-2491, was written and voted on four years ago. Bilbray was unable to comment as he is still voting in Washington.
Davis said she supports this tax cut due to her belief that all students should be able to attend school regardless of their financial situation.
“”It is very important that every child believes that higher education is doable,”” Davis said. “”They need to believe that they can afford it. We must decide what is the most important thing to us and this is one of them.””
Of equal concern to both candidates are the laws preventing hate crimes both in the nation and in San Diego. Davis said she feels that the most important thing is to discover the source of the anger for hate crimes.
“”We need to recognize hate crimes,”” she said. “”There are reasons why they are committed.””
Bilbray, on the other hand, said that more attention should be placed on preventing hate crimes for other groups than just minorities.
“”People always talk about hate crimes that deal with minorities,”” Bilbray said. “”But this doesn’t mean that it can’t happen to straight [individuals]. I don’t want my kids to be a victim of a hate crime no matter what their gender, sexual orientation, or race is. Anyone can be a victim.””
Bilbray, who has served as congressman of the 49th district for the last six years, believes that the work he has done in Washington should serve as evidence that he should be re-elected.
“”Look how much I have accomplished in the last six years,”” Bilbray said. “”It is second to none in San Diego County and my opponent knows that.””
Davis, however, said that she should take office after the Nov. 7 election due to her passion for her district and its schools.
“”I do care what happens to our community,”” Davis said.
“”I do what I stand for and I stand for building a strong future. I have a philosophy that we need to leave this place better than we found it.””
Regardless of whom the UCSD students vote for, Dodge said he hopes everyone will go to the polls to make a difference.
“”Just remember to go out and rock the vote and encourage others to do the same,”” Dodge said.