Courtyard debates change from previously serious topics

Michael Mays, senior in political science, and Bryan Stebbins, sophomore in political science, participate in the Spring Debate Series in the student union on Mar. 4, 2015. (Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

The existence of aliens has been debated for years; however, it is a change in topic from the usual seriousness of the debates that take place in the Union courtyard.

Until Wednesday, the Courtyard Debates (hosted by the Union Program Council) had students focused on serious issues and hot topics in society. The unusual topic was due to feedback requesting some not-so-serious debates. Because of this, the discussion Wednesday centered around whether or not aliens existed and whether or not they are monitoring humans.

“Aliens is a nice mid-ground because it can be fun and can be entertaining, but can also be taken seriously,” Bryan Stebbins, sophomore in women’s studies, said.

According to Stebbins, the topic was a way to lighten up the debates that normally take place.

“I think that we were doing a lot of serious debates, and we were just trying to get a break from that,” Stebbins said.

During the debate, Stebbins argued that aliens do indeed exist and could be monitoring us, while Michael Mays, senior in political science, argued the opposite. Mays claimed a lack of evidence and scientific impossibility, while Stebbins argued there is evidence of aliens, using cases like Roswell as an example.

Some evidence, however, was more serious than others. In one instance, Stebbins referenced a Snapple bottle cap fact as a source, which got a laugh from the audience.

Mays, on the other hand, generally argued for more empirical evidence of the aliens.

“I want to remind the audience about knowledge,” Mays said during his argument. “We can only know that something exists if we have evidence, concrete, reputable evidence that it exists. That’s how science works.”

While Wednesday’s debate about aliens could have been looked upon as a truly hot-button topic for some, other students preferred the more serious topics.

“I was a little disappointed,” Sarina Irwin, sophomore in communication studies, said. “I liked the serious debates. I feel like when they present both sides of the topics, I learn more about the topic and am able to talk about it and make informed decisions if I was on the fence.”

The UPC was interested in student opinion about the change, and a survey was handed out during the event. Whether or not the debates continue using less-serious topics or revert back to those button-pushing topics, however, will continue to be a surprise.

Emily Moore
My name is Emily Moore and I'm a senior majoring in English and mass communications with a minor in leadership. I love to read, write and edit. During my free time, I enjoy doing crossword puzzles, rock climbing and spending time with my friends.