Brunswick held its second meeting of the Student Union at the Upper School on Thursday, March 28, as students promoted free speech and civil discourse on campus, while debating the issue of illegal immigration and President Trump’s proposed wall on the United States and Mexican border.
The anti-wall side included seniors Charlie Ciporin, Will Maynard, and Jonathan Wiener; the pro-wall side included fellow classmates Christian Hartch, Ryan McMurchy, and Hank Michalik.
Seniors Tommy Kimberlin and Cole Pierce served as moderators.
“The Brunswick Student Union was started with the goal of demonstrating civil discourse in the context of highly controversial issues,” Pierce explained to the audience of Upper School students and faculty.
“As is part of Brunswick’s mission to prepare young men for their adult lives ahead, it seems to be increasingly valuable in today’s world to debate an important topic civilly, while equipped with data and reason to support your argument.”
Both sides presented three arguments supporting their case, each of which was followed by the opposing side’s rebuttal. The side making the initial argument then had one final opportunity to respond.
Each side concluded with a one-minute summary — and a 10-minute Q & A followed.
“It is important to realize that we’re all living in a time where people are very divided about the hot-button topics,” Headmaster Thomas W. Philip said.
“There’s less and less listening to the other side and more and more shouting over each other. The goal of this exercise was not to declare a winner — but to promote respectful discourse, even when philosophical differences may be present.”
Kimberlin concluded the exercise by encouraging his fellow students to follow the example set by the participants on stage.
“Although, yes, much of this discussion was prepared, it’s a model that we should all try to emulate the next time we have an important discussion,” he concluded. “Equip yourself with facts, be rational, and don’t make it personal.
“These are skills that will make you a better debater. More important, they will make you a better American citizen.”