Political debate was in full swing Wednesday night as students filled the room in Waite Phillips Hall to hear campus political groups debate President Obama’s terrorism policy.Resolved · Rob McCarthy (left), a member of College Republicans, speaks at Wednesday’s debate as Jonathan Brebner and Fritz Pielstick (right) of College Democrats consider his argument. – Candice Harbour | Daily TrojanThe fourth such policy debate between the USC College Republicans and USC College Democrats, the event was sponsored by the Trojan Debate Squad, the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics; it focused on evaluating Obama’s approach to terrorism.Republicans argued that Obama’s policy had been ineffective in combating terrorism, while the Democrats took the opposite stance.Taking the side that the president needed to take a stronger approach in combating terrorism, College Republicans member Rob McCarthy said Obama was too concerned with his political image, rather than national security.“Until President Obama decides to be practical, his inefficiency will lead to future attacks,” he said.College Democrats debater Jonathan Brebner argued that Obama’s strategy has not been inefficient and emphasized that U.S. policy does not exist in a vacuum.“America is safer when people hate us less,” he said. “This is something that can’t be said enough and has to be hammered home.”Fritz Pielstick of College Democrats agreed, saying Obama’s approach, though not ideal, was an improvement over the previous administration.“The simple fact of the matter is the fact that Obama has decreased anti-American sentiment has put us in a better situation than we were, if not a perfect situation,” he said.But Sammy Goldenberg, also a member of College Republicans, dismissed arguments that anti-American sentiment led to terrorism.“Obama’s attempts at reconciliation have not quelled the terrorist fury against us in the least,” he said, citing recent incidents like the Ft. Hood shooting and attempted Christmas Day bombing. “It is not true that treating our enemy with kid gloves will somehow make them hate us less, nor should we have to worry about angering those who already want to destroy us.”Debate between the panelists remained calm for the most part, with the exception of a few brief bouts of “I didn’t say that!” and “Yes, you did!” retorts during cross-examination.Audience reaction was more heated. In addition to mixed laughter and boos during comments, question and answer sessions featured sparring between audience members and panelists.Some listeners thought the back-and-forth detracted from the debate.“It could have been more constructive than people talking past each other,” said Catherine Sullivan, a junior majoring in philosophy (ethics, law and value theory) and political science.Neftalie Williams, a junior majoring in communication, agreed.“The audience got a little too heated without getting points across,” he said.As in previous debates, audience members voted to determine a winner. But this year, for the first time, the debate included a judge, Dr. Jeffrey Sellers, an associate professor of political science at USC.Upon the conclusion of the debate, Sellers called both sides’ arguments underwhelming.“In my role as Simon Cowell here, I will try to set the record straight,” Sellers said. “I hope everyone is equally dissatisfied.”He said both parties got hung up on weaker arguments during questioning but gave a marginal edge to the Democrats.“My overall conclusion about the merits is that the Democrats were not actually able to establish that the Obama administration is effective, but that they were able to establish that it was less ineffective than the Bush administration,” Sellers said.Nick Bradvica, a freshman majoring in creative writing, political science and social sciences (economics) who represented the GOP in the last debate, spoke more highly of the outcome.“I thought both debaters on both sides were prepared and argued solid points,” he said.Bradvica said that although he felt the Republicans did a better job, he wasn’t sure the debate swayed many people’s opinions.“I think most people don’t change their minds over one hour of debate,” he said.But Bobby Almeida, the president of the USC Democrats, said he hoped the debate helped bring students to the Democratic side, which he felt did a better job of showcasing the facts.“I’d assume some people were wishy-washy on the issues,” he said.Anna Li, a junior majoring in communication who leads the Trojan Debate Squad, spoke more highly of the event, saying it had a higher standard of arguments than previous debates.“It was really a success because both sides became passionate,” she said.A debate for next semester is already in the works.
Early-enrollee quarterback Kedon Slovis played surprisingly well at spring practice. (Ling Luo/Daily Trojan) Throughout spring ball, a number of early-enrollee incoming freshmen on both sides of the ball made strong cases for playing time in the fall. With the loss of so many veterans to the draft, the freshmen’s ability to step up and contribute will be perhaps the most critical factor in the coming season. Though little more than a month of spring football doesn’t make the answers to those questions much clearer, it does give a better idea of what to expect from some of the younger team members. Jackson showcased his raw physical ability during the spring showcase, where he made a ridiculous one-handed interception at the line of scrimmage and proceeded to run it back for a touchdown. Jackson has been one of the most disruptive players on the Trojan front seven throughout the spring, and seems likely to have a big role to play come fall. Slovis showcases a natural understanding of the timing necessary for throws in offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s system, as well as refined touch on his passes. He doesn’t have the strongest arm, and his mobility is limited. However, his ability to quickly make reads and put the ball where and when it needs to be makes him worthy of notice at the position. Although it’s highly unlikely he wins the starting job, his ability to run the offense smoothly provides the Trojans with more security at signal caller — something a team always needs. Though the receiver room is crowded with an incredible amount of talent, Jackson’s performance so far should earn him the opportunity to fight for a bigger role in fall camp. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the field regularly once the season begins. On the other side of the ball, quarterback Kedon Slovis has been a pleasant surprise for the Trojans. The Arizona native came into the spring with few expectations other than to be the fourth-string quarterback, yet his strong play has caught the attention of everyone in attendance. Allen continued to play well once he was moved back to safety, a position where the Trojans sorely lack depth. With the loss of so many veteran players in the secondary and the injury woes of many that remain, Allen’s versatility could make him a crucial player in the fall. Outside linebacker and defensive end Drake Jackson was perhaps the biggest shining star of spring ball. Jackson already looks the part of a Division I edge rusher, standing at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds and having been compared to USC legend Leonard Williams by head coach Clay Helton. Jackson carries that frame with tremendous athleticism, showing a rare burst off the line of scrimmage along with a special quickness in moving off of blocks. Defensive back Briton Allen, a late flip from Georgia Tech, found his way into plenty of reps this spring as a result of the numerous injuries hampering the secondary. Allen performed impressively when thrust into the fire at cornerback in the early practices — a departure from his usual safety position. Though his technique and footwork in coverage have a ways to go, Allen’s raw football instincts and aggressiveness showed up regularly. Fellow offensive newcomer wide receiver John Jackson III has been one of the most fun players to watch throughout the spring. From the first week of practice, Jackson has looked like he’s played in this offense for years. His route running is smooth and sudden, with exceptionally clean breaks that allow him to create separation with ease. His natural athleticism, sound hands and route-running ability made him a favorite target throughout spring ball, regularly making plays against the first team defense. Now that spring football practice has come to an end, the Trojans won’t take the field again to prepare for the 2019 season for two months. There’s no shortage of questions surrounding the team; the way it bounces back from last year’s disappointing season may define the program for years to come.
But even more important than adopting the comprehensive prevention framework will be realization of Villaraigosa’s intent to lead on prevention as much as on suppression. Leadership and political courage are the sine qua non for ending this region’s gang violence epidemic. With a few additions, the mayor’s strategy could put the city on the road to sustained reductions in gang violence. If the neighborhood-by-neighborhood assessments of community conditions, gang attributes, gang group processes, schools, demographics and crime are done by the right experts; if the plans are co-crafted with neighborhood, school, law-enforcement and county leaders; and if sufficient funding is sustained for five years, this strategy could demonstrate what current gang reduction efforts cannot. A lot of work remains to be done. Law enforcement needs additional resources and is an important part of the solution, but the $15 million that Villaraigosa proposes as new money should go to prevention and intervention – which have close to nothing when compared to suppression. We need to examine whether the amount is too little spread over too much territory to get results. The power and political independence of the proposed Gang Reduction and Youth Development Director is critical. If he or she can’t produce the needed collaboration or deflect the inevitable political meddling, nothing worthwhile will get done. And some central pieces are missing. The mechanisms to coordinate police with prevention efforts and to meld city-county-LAUSD collaboration are essential components that need defining. All important mental-health services should be a centerpiece. Resources for families, faith-based and civic partners are missing, and the investment in improved gang intervention needs fleshing out. MAYOR Antonio Villaraigosa’s gang-reduction strategy, if done right, provides a workable foundation for comprehensive gang prevention. And it comes not a moment too soon. In the three months since the Los Angeles City Council’s Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence and Youth Development received my gang-prevention report, more than 130 Angelenos have been murdered, many by gangs. The few credible responses to the report’s call for comprehensive and accountable systems to remove the root causes of gangs have been the exception. Most responses have been confused, uncoordinated, small and contrary to best policy. In other words, business as usual. The mayor’s strategy is still a work in progress, but it pulls together the basic concepts of comprehensive root-causes prevention well. The focus on offering alternatives in high-gang areas, job creation, intergovernmental collaboration, prioritization of prevention and intervention, and increased investment in prevention and intervention are all laudable. And the strategy wisely includes comprehensive re-entry for ex-offenders. Connie Rice is a civil-rights lawyer and co-author of “A Call to Action: The Case for Comprehensive Solutions to L.A.’s Gang Violence Epidemic.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!