MTSU Debate Team debates universal health care with 2018 Irish Time Debate champions

Photo and story by Savannah Meade / Contributing Writer

The MTSU Debate Team and the 2018 Irish Times Debate champions faced off on the topic of universal health care on MTSU’s campus Thursday night.

The Irish Times Debate is a debating competition held annually in Ireland for students in higher education. 2018’s winners are currently on a U.S. tour and stopped by MTSU on Thursday for an exhibition match. The champions from Ireland, Amy Crean, Cian Leahy and Aodhan Peelo, are all students at University College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland.

Thursday’s debate boiled down to two countries with two different systems of health care for its citizens and two teams arguing the pros and cons of each. With the topic of health care in America typically lacking the point of view of those who have experienced universal health care, the Irish team brought in a new perspective. Hosted by the Pi Kappa Delta Honors Society, Thursday’s debate over universal health care marks the third time students from Ireland have come to MTSU’s campus to debate against the resident team. The three MTSU Debate Team members who participated in the exhibition match included Alex Fingeroot, Jordan Nickell and Josh Tilton.

The event started with MTSU Debate Team Coach Patrick Richey outlining how the debate was going to go. He also thanked various parties for helping the “awesome Irish people come here.” Pi Kappa Delta’s president, Abigail Barnes, then began introducing the debaters.

Once the debate began, members from each team alternated their time at the podium in seven-minute speeches. The match was moderated by MTSU Debate Team member Steven Barhorst.

Crean, Leahy and Peelo’s main point was that health should be viewed on the same level as other basic rights.

“Good luck exercising your rights to free speech, your rights to assembly (and) your right to bear arms if you don’t have that right to health,” Leahy said in the first speech from the Irish debaters.

He went on to say that Americans already pay taxes for things that serve the public like a universal health care system would. His examples included the military, police forces and roadways. He stated that all of those entities are universal to citizens without question of income.

“I am a debater,” Leahy said. “I view almost everything as up for debate … but lives and health care should be above that. They should be granted without question.”

MTSU’s first speaker, Fingeroot, then stepped up to the podium and stated that America is not necessarily ready to adopt a universal health care system.

“There is a finite amount of money in the world, and there is a finite amount of money in each country,” Fingeroot said. “At the end of the day, we can’t all of the sudden institute universal health care without fixing a lot of other issues.”

This led to MTSU’s Debate Team’s other main points, which focused more on the cons of universal health care. Tilton, the last speaker of the night, had a final point that summarized what the MTSU Debate Team viewed as the biggest downfall of universal health care: It takes out the incentive to improve and innovate within medical fields. The MTSU Debate Team pointed out that the amount of government involvement needed for universal health care could hinder innovation as well.

“My opponents are claiming that is it a fundamental right for people to have a specific right to life, and I absolutely agree with this contention,” Tilton said. “Not only is it a right, but we also have the right to the opportunity for the best medical health care system in the world. If it is the sovereign duty of our government to uphold the best, long-term interests of its constituent people, then the intangible, unique benefits of privatized health care provide the best direction for the U.S. moving forward.”

To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email

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