Students, faculty debate Issue 2 before election
A group of over 100 nursing students and faculty crowded into Henderson Hall Monday night, to hear both sides of a Issue 2 debate hosted by Kent State’s College of Nursing.
The event, which is the first of its kind for the school, was designed to hold an open conversation about the bill before voting on Tuesday.
“This debate should matter to students because it assists them in understanding topics that pertain to their future," said Emelia Sherin, a sophomore public relations major who organized the event. "We are all affected by Issue 2, directly and/or indirectly. Kent State produces the future...future nurses, doctors, politicians, lawyers, journalists and so on. Why not start caring and fighting for proper education on these issues now rather than later? It's time for us to talk about it, rather than putting up a poster and sweeping it under the rug.”
Issue 2, also known as the Drug Price Standards Initiative, is a controversial new provision to Ohio’s amendment that would mandate the state agencies to not spend more on pharmaceuticals like OxyContin and other medications than the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
It also outlines the state would be responsible for paying attorneys in charge of defending the bill, should any legal issues come up.
“I think that our opportunity to vote is a privilege that we should never take lightly,” said Kim Cleveland a lecturer and coordinator for health care policy at the College of Nursing who also helped put the debate together. “Every issue that comes to ballot is something that’s going to impact us and our society. So every time we take the opportunity to get to know more about those issues, we take the time to create a better society together. That’s what this process is about.”
The team that opposed the bill argued because of the vague writing of the bill, there was no real way for state government to enforce something like this.
Other arguments included there is already a discount of 23.1 percent on prescription drugs.
“The issue is pretty sketchy,” said Thomas Watral, a junior nursing major at Kent State who debated on the side advocating for the provision. “We were arguing for it but we both believe that it’s a pretty weak bill.”
Those on the advocating side argued that the bill has a potential to lower the cost of prescription medicines, cutting the cost of medications by 24 percent for the 11 million people that live in Ohio.
They also argued the bill could save Ohio’s tax payer funding, this money could be then reallocated into projects like fighting the opioid epidemic and could set a precedent to state action and also help expand health care in Ohio.
“I think it’s really good to be able to do something right before,” Cleveland said. “There are websites and there are other resources that we can use to research but when it comes down to how we feel about policy it's really about how it resonates with us and those that are around us. I think having it close to the election was that opportunity to ask questions.”
When the debate ended, the judges tallied the score of each of the two teams that competed to sway the room’s opinion one way or the other for the controversial topic.
In the end, the side opposed to the provision won. However, it’s up to the voters whether that decision will come true in the eyes of the public.
“As students we really need to be registered voters, care about what’s going on in our community and start caring about what policy is going to affect a future career, a future family, a future life,” Watral said. “Politics isn’t really a spectator sport, it’s not another hobby that we have, it affects your everyday life. We need to start caring now.”