The two party system isn't broken. At least not at UT.
SGA's Government Affairs Committee hosted Pizza and Politics on Thursday night in the UC, bringing students from disparate political parties together for an evening of debate.
The event sparked attention on Twitter as students were encouraged to live tweet with the hashtag #UTKdebate.
The debating students included Brandon Chrisman and Weston Bell representing the College Republicans; Mitch Thompson and Daniel Lawhon representing College Democrats; and Zach Dean and Joshua Goode representing the Students for Liberty.
Each party's representatives presented their viewpoints on topics like healthcare, foreign policy, the government's role in education, the economy and the effects of the recent government shutdown. A lively and informative debate emerged as the representatives outlined their party's policies and beliefs.
Chuck Meade, a junior studying youth ministry at Crown College and the president of College Republicans at Crown College, said he was glad for the opportunity to dialogue with students with different political leanings.
"I'm strongly involved in the College Republicans at our college," Meade said. "It's mainly a conservative campus, so we don't get to see the opposing viewpoints of libertarians and democrats. It was good to see it all come together."
Meade expressed his appreciation for hearing certain parties bring their opinions to the table.
"I'd say the Libertarians were the most prepared," Meade said. "It seemed to me they were the most ready. I will personally look into Libertarians. People usually shut them out because they are the third party that no one expects to win an election. I was impressed by their presentation."
Joshua Banks, a sophomore studying youth ministry at Crown College, said he was impressed by the clarity of each party's stance.
"It was a lot different than I thought it would be," Banks said. "I found myself agreeing with Libertarians more than I thought I would as a Republican."
The consistency of each representative with his or her party's beliefs made the event credible, in Meade's opinion.
"You could easily tell by what each group said that they were loyal to their party in every sense," Meade said. "Definitely by their reactions and even their facial expressions, when the Republicans were giving their answer the Democrats would be shaking their heads you could tell that they represent their parties well and were very knowledgeable about it."
Rachel Cross, a senior double majoring in political science and sociology, served as moderator of the debate. Cross said she saw the debate as a successful continuation of a valuable university tradition, with cooperation between parties serving as a model for diplomacy.
"I became a member of government affairs my sophomore year of college and have stayed in it," Cross said. "This debate is something government affairs hosted the past three years and we were able to put it on again this year. The Student Government Association was great about getting us money; helping provided the pizza, and more. The three organizations were awesome to work with and it all just fell into place."