The University Union is raising funds to support the Union's second debate. The Union hosted its inaugural debate, "Opposing Views on Israel and Palestine", on October 27th. The debate featured two UMass Professors (Professor Jay Berkovitz and Professor Joseph Levine) as well as Smith College professor, Justin Cammy. The debate also featured UMass alum Dr. Yousef Munayyer. The guest speakers engaged in a civil discussion covering various disagreements within the Israel Palestine Conflict. Audience members remarked on how much they were able to learn. In a debate, as opposed to a lecture, we are able to hear multiple perspectives on a given topic. Over 500 people attended the debate. The audience was made up of students, professors, University staff, and community members.
In the Spring of 2016, the Union aims to host a debate that relates to recent campus protests across the country. The money raised will be used for advertising, printing event programs, and honorariums for guest speakers. We appreciate all of your help in reaching our funding goal. Any amount raised that exceeds our funding goal will be used for future debates planned by the University Union.
The video linked to the project page features the introductions to the October 27th debate, "Opposing Views on Israel and Palestine". The Opening Statements, 10 minutes per speaker, are also available on YouTube.
Know Your Adversary: New Debating Society Starts up at UMass
Owen Wiggins / Daniel Gordon
UMass Amherst has a new RSO. It's the University Union, a debating society inspired by the Oxford Union at Oxford University.
Many students and professors at American universities have come to feel that the public lectures on campus are frequently one-sided. Each speaker, whether liberal or conservative, draws an audience that already agrees with the speaker's ideas.
There is not enough debate: not enough direct exchange between opponents. Not only are debates generally more entertaining than monologues, they are also more educational. When it comes to many ethical and political matters, there is no single truth. We must choose among competing views, each of which has its own logic, its own integrity.
In fact, in many areas of life, the truth is not this opinion or that opinion. The truth is that we must seriously weigh alternatives and not pretend that complex matters are simple. In the end, we have to make a choice, but we should make our choices knowing exactly what the strengths of the other side are.
Even students who are sure that their position on an issue is correct cannot afford to avoid high-level debate. John Stuart Mill, "He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that." The University Union will enable students to have a healthy respect for ideas they do not necessarily believe. College students must learn from views they do not share, and they must have a debate forum to learn about them.
Owen Wiggins is a Management Major and the President of the University Union
Daniel Gordon is professor of History and the Faculty Advisor to the University Union