“A Humorous Academic Debate:” Rowan’s RIPPAC hosts annual April Fools’ Debate

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Students rejoice in debate over the turkey and eagle.- Copy Editor / Victoria McGivern

Which is more American, the eagle or the turkey? The aching question lingered throughout the night as students and faculty restlessly debated the topic. 

Rowan Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship (RIPPAC) hosted its annual mock debate on April 4 at 7 p.m. and warmly welcomed the public with a light reception starting at 6 p.m. The panel included Dr. Richard Dammers and Aaron Agostini who represented team eagle and Dr. Corine Brown and Alyssa Morgen who represented team turkey. 

As the crowd enjoyed tea and sandwiches, they readied themselves for a night of “foolishness and fun,” according to the official event poster. 

Reilly Kerr is a political science major who attended the event. He proudly claimed that he was team eagle.

“When you think of America, the eagle comes in my mind. There’s an eagle on top of the American flag… That’s just the first thing that comes to my mind,” Kerr said. 

As the crowd found their seats and silenced their phones, the moderator — Dr. Ben Dworkin — introduced the crowd with a long, and comically obnoxious, speech. Each member of the board panel used their background to support their evidence on why their bird was more American.

First on the stand was team eagle. 

As the dean of Rowan’s College of Performing Arts and a professor of music education, Dammers used his background and knowledge to present his case. He intertwined theatre, dance and music into his eight-minute presentation.

In his presentation, Dammers boldly displayed lyrics from ABBA’s song “Eagle.” He carefully argued that the lyrics represented nobility and honor — traits that Americans deeply value, according to his presentation.   

Taking a completely different approach, Dammers’ partner, Aaron Agostini, used his background as a molecular and cellular biology major to argue that eagles are genetically unique. 

“The scope of my presentation is in a genetics context…and so what I chose to do is an analysis of the two birds, the turkey and the eagle, in context of the 50 state birds,” Agostini said. 

Lastly, team turkey took the stand. 

Being an associate professor in the College of Education, Brown used her lifelong role as an educator to persuade audience members that the turkey is a “progressivist” and “perennialist.” She argued that as a social species, turkeys care for their communities, as Americans do. 

Bringing in the most laughs, Alyssa Morgen, a political science major, used capitalism and the economy to argue why the turkey is more American. 

“I believe that capitalism is the defining trait of America and so when we’re looking at what’s more American, we have to look at what’s more capitalistic. I think turkeys are bringing in revenue every year…it’s almost $6 billion, whereas we are spending money on Eagle conservations,” Morgen said. 

After presenting their cases, the crowd decided on the winner with a mere round of applause. Whatever team caused the most noise, determined the winner. 

Slowly, Dworkin read aloud the winner of the mock debate. 

After a long night of laughs and good jokes, the turkey was victorious. 

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