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Student Trump And Hillary Groups Will Debate Despite Alleged GroupMe Leaks, Withdrawn Support

The Penn State Speech & Debate Society released a statement early this morning announcing it will no longer host or moderate Tuesday’s debate between Students for Hillary and Students for Trump (also known as We Are for Trump and formally known as Bull-Moose Party) in light of “leaked” GroupMe messages allegedly from a Students for Trump group. Even so, the debate will proceed.

The statement refers to leaked internal conversations, which appeared on a Twitter account dubbed “Act Of Ours Bring Shame” beginning September 15. Onward State chose not to report on the messages at the time because, although vulgar, they did not contain any direct threats. Additionally, we cannot confirm that the messages are in fact tied to Students for Trump, as the group denies using any group messaging platforms other than Google Hangout and its own proprietary app.

The Twitter account features screenshots of messages called “CUCKlidge Republicans,” “Students for Harambe,” and “Cuck Slayers,” claiming the messages are from a “Penn State Trump GroupMe.”

The Students for Hillary recognized the Speech & Debate Society’s withdrawn support, but chose to proceed as planned.

“We will still be participating in a policy orientated debate with the members of We Are for Trump this evening,” Students for Hillary President and debater Johnna Purcell said. “While we are disappointed by the actions and remarks of members of We Are for Trump, students at Penn State deserve the resources to make an educated choice as to which candidate will receive their vote this election season.”

You can read the statement from Speech & Debate Society in its entirety below:

“Always establish common ground.” That was the motto of long-time Penn State debate coach, Joseph F. O’Brien. That no matter your disagreement on the issues, you always find an opening, a common place with your opponent. That requires respecting your opponent and not belittling them for their race, gender, sexuality, nationality, or disability. This has been true for the entire one hundred eighteen year history of the Speech & Debate Society. It was true in 1916 when Penn State formed its women’s debate team. It was true in 1927 when Penn State debated Lincoln University and Thurgood Marshall for the first interracial debate in the country. And it is true in 2016.

Over the past few years, the Penn State Speech & Debate Society has hosted a number of events centered on controversial topics from campus issues such as addressing sexual violence and whether THON culture is pernicious, to state issues such as the benefits and harms of fracking and nuclear energy, to national issues such as gun control, Iran sanctions, and raising the minimum wage. In all of these events, the debates stay focused on the issues. The students established common ground with one another. We sought to achieve our goal of providing an environment for intelligent and open debate, and we did.

It is for these reasons that we have decided not to host and moderate a debate between the Students for Clinton and Students for Trump, originally scheduled for Tuesday, September 27th. Based on the recent leaking of internal conversations amongst Students for Trump members and the refusal for the group to issue a statement denouncing those conversations, we do not believe moderating a debate between these two organizations will establish common ground nor provide an environment for intelligent and open debate. That debate will continue without our involvement. While these students may have the freedom of speech to make these statements, our organization also has the freedom not to provide a forum for them to make those statements. These comments, which are misogynistic, racist, and homophobic, are counter to the values we hold as an organization.

We Are Penn State. We Are Debate.

Sincerely,
The Penn State Speech & Debate Society Executive Board

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a senior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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