After Debate Panel- Students and Faculty


Courtesy of William Paterson University

Maria Zuniga, Features Editor

On October 18th, William Paterson University hosted the 2017 New Jersey Gubernatorial Debate. The debate was held in the Shea Center on campus and was produced by our media partners, WCBS television and radio.

The NJ Gubernatorial Debate was followed by an after debate panel of students and faculty from the Communication and Political Science Departments streamed live on campus and local cable from the Martini Room in Hobart Hall.

Joann Lee, Professor of Communication and Christine Kelly, Professor of Political Science were the two faculty members. Communication student panelists were Wyatt Mayes, Christina Torres, and Maria Zuniga. Political Science student panelists were Kelly Ross, Harue Ramos, and Anna Guarino.

The student panelists were able to voice their thoughts, opinions and beliefs regarding the debate between Republican candidate Kim Guadagno and Democratic candidate Phil Murphy.

Professor Kelly began the discussion by posing the question, if whether or not the students felt that the parties are doing enough to compete for their vote.

“This debate was different they did talk about student debt and things that students care about,” said Guarino. “In previous elections every candidate has kinda neglected issues that youth people, youth voters care about.”

Murphy’s website claims that the average college student accumulates $33,000 in debt. The topic of student debt directly targets curtain college students and graduates who are struggling with student debt. Ramos felt that the issue of student debt was briefly touched.

Property taxes in New Jersey are among the highest in the nation. During the debate there were two distinctive ways to go about this issue. Guadagno vows to lower property taxes and Murphy will raise property taxes. Dr. Lee asked the students what they thought about the two standpoints.

“To promise to lower property taxes, I think she said on average its going to affect you know the average tax payer, it’ll save them eight hundred dollars a year,” said Ross. “When you break down eight hundred dollars a year it ends up being fifteen dollars a week. That is not enough, that doesn’t even pay for a college course.”

The term “underfunded” was used frequently during the debate. All of the following are underfunded state pensions, public education, and transportation. A way to resolve this issue maybe to raise property taxes because ultimately it is an investment to secure the future of New Jersey.

Another topic spoken about in the after debate panel was legalization of marijuana. Over the past years states through the United States have began to legalize marijuana and tax it. Murphy believes in legalizing it recreationally and Guadagno wants to decriminalize it and expand the medical marijuana program. The student panelist’s felt if marijuana were to become legalized it should be regulated. Professor Kelly brought up the opioid epidemic going on right now in the U.S. and Ross felt legalization of marijuana could help the opioid crisis.

“250 thousand million prescriptions are written every year. That’s enough for every American to have a bottle of pills and that bottle of pills is not just sitting in their counter,” said Ramos. “Its either falling into their hands or somebody else’s hands. I think legalization leads to regulation and I think that’s the way to go.”

In the last few minutes of the after debate panel the students were asked about their overall thoughts. They had mixed opinions on who did the better job. Some felt Murphy came up on top, others felt Guadagno did, and others felt like neither one of them came out on top. Many questions weren’t answered and many topics were briefly discussed.

How do you describe your experience on the student panel?

“When you consider that being selected for this event that only happens once every four years, it makes you feel that accomplished something,” said Mayes a senior and broadcast journalism student. “So for my generation of William Paterson students I can say I was one of 6 people asked for this and it’s a honor.”

Why do you think it is important to do this student panel?

“The panel is especially significant for our campus as it enabled students to directly assess the overall discussion and debate as presented by both candidates,” said Professor Lee.

Election Day is on November 7th go out and vote!